I straightened for YEARS because I thought it was the only option for my hair. Then again, I was going through the "teen angst" years when I started, and didn't stop straightening my hair until I was almost 22. Straightening killed my hair, and I had to chop it off to chin-length, which was painful for me. Now, I don't care about being "glam" or "sexy" according to everyone else's standards, because I feel
glam, sexy, beautiful, vivacious, and unique. My curls are wonderful, and I'm constantly getting complimented on them! I've had a few very formal events since going strictly curly (and going CG), and I've never felt more beautiful. I just let my curls do their thing. That's one thing that's unusual about me, I suppose - my hair is curly enough that when I straightened, I was constantly having to look in the mirror on humid/rainy/windy days, to make sure my hair hadn't started to get waves back in, borderline curls. I do believe I was more self-consious when I straightened my hair, because I was so worried about my curls jumping out. My hair also took a LOT longer to style when I straightened it! It's not worth the fuss for me anymore, and I've grown to adore my curls. Feeling the need to "conform", or wonder what other people think about me, has never really been an issue unless I was straightening my hair. That being said, I wear my curls proudly.
Basically - I think you need to do whatever keeps your confidence up. However you feel most comfortable with your hair is how you need to style it.
ETA: I'm glad I'm going into Education
. No career pressures on how you wear your hair.