Today marks two years since I started growing my beard. Put another way, that’s 731 days free of the daily ritual of scraping cold steel across my face to remove that which nature clearly intended to be there. By now, anybody who knows me knows I’m weird about my beard. And what’s not to be weird about? It has become my look, as much as the Beetle-inspired style was the look of my golden blond locks childhood. (I have been annoyed for 30 years since my hair darkened significantly during adolescence.) In fact, the handlebar mustache look I started sporting toward the end of my first year bearded became the real focus of my second year. Here’s a look at how things went my second year.
13 + 1/2 months: After the annoying botched setback by the substitute barber, a lesson learned the hard way, I was pretty bummed out about how my beard looked. Looking back now, I think it looked just fine, but I had really started to enjoy the handlebar style, and felt somewhat clipped. And rightly so. I went 6 weeks without even taking a single picture of my beard, a record given how crazy I had become about it.
14 months: As the economy started to improve, finally, I started hearing from a lot of recruiters. I decided to interview with my beard, put my best foot forward, dress the part, and speak to my strengths. And it worked! Here I am just before the interview for the amazing job I ended up getting. I was still a little nervous about it, but on my first day I met a coworker with an awesome beard, and that pretty much settled the question.
15 months: Autumn brought back the ski cap look. Between the botched trim in August, interviewing in September and starting a new job in October, I kept my beard shorter for a while. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but after the August trim, my beard didn’t fill out to its previous fullness right away. I guess hair grows in cycles, so maybe I was in a dormant period.
16 months: As if right on queue, my beard started to get really full again in December, just in time for winter. I decided to add some length. My mustache really took off, too, so I decided to go with it again. I mean, seriously, look at that. How could I not let that grow?
At the start of January, I was able to sport my first handlebar in five months. It was a lot easier to do the second time. I think the hairs were trained the first round, and that made it easier to work. Whatever it was, it felt good to feel like myself again. Funny how this kind of thing grows on you.
17 months: I don’t know what it is with the funny faces. Honestly. It’s hard to take a picture of yourself without looking like a douche. But here I am at 17 months with my mustache going 3D again. That’s when I really start to like it the best. Some how I learned to keep it out of my mouth when I eat.
18 months: There comes a day for every guy who grows his facial hair when the Universe confirms that have become “that guy” with the beard. For me that happened around 18 months growth when this drawing of me appeared on the white board near my desk at work. Check out that mustache! The transformation is complete.
19 months: As my mustache continued to get longer, I needed a stronger wax to control it. I found some amazing stuff called Woodsman Mustache Wax that gave me maximum control without feeling like I had plaster of Paris on my face. It was actually too stiff, but I discovered using it in addition to my daily standard, Man’s Face Stuff Moustache Wax to get the perfect density that kept everything in place all day long. Both are great products I would recommend to any guy with a mustache.
20 months: I don’t even want to talk about it. In an attempt to make somebody else happy, I trimmed my beard and mustache in April. It was then I realized how much I had become self-identified by my beard. Crazy, I know, but it happens. I decided at this point I would just grow it how I like it from now on. Lesson learned the hard way!
21 months: As it turns out, I have an awesome barber named Alder. When I went in for that trim, he knew I wasn’t really into it. So he trimmed my beard in such a way that it recovered really quickly. Here I am in May, already feeling like myself again. My beard and mustache grew back even faster than they had in autumn. I guess it was just meant to be there.
22 months: After the trim, I decided to let go of my neckline. I had been keeping a neckline since I first grew my beard. It just felt too scruffy at first. At this point, though, I realized that nature had been good to me and put everything right where it needed to be. And nothing wrong with trying new things, right? I was surprised how it made my beard look so much bigger, too.
23 months: Crazy how fast it all grew back! By July I was almost back to the mustache I had trimmed last August. My beard really came back in full after the trim in April. I really enjoyed changing up my look from one day to the next switching off from the all natural look one day to a handlebar the next, and sometimes a walrus.
2 years bearded: And that brings me to today. This week was my 46th birthday. I celebrated by spending a few days this week at a nearby hot springs. I went most of the week without using mustache wax or beard oil. Exposure to the elements brought out the coarse texture of my beard, but it’s starting to settle down again. It’s really something to think that I have not actually shaved in 2 years.
I can honestly say that the journey of the past two years bearded has changed me. I am a better man now than I was then. Is it all because I grew my beard? Probably not, but growing my beard has taught me many life lessons that are good. I have learned to be patient. Growing a beard is all about being patient. I have gained self-confidence. Growing a beard invites criticism from others, and learning to not buckle under pressure builds confidence. I have learned self-acceptance. Growing a beard brings out every inner insecurity as each minor flaw presents itself. I have learned about perseverance. Frankly, some days are bad beard days. Learning to keep at it anyway is a great life skill. These are just the first few things I can think of, but there is so much more. And so I will continue to write about my beard as long as it continues to teach me new life lessons.