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7 Things I Learned From Growing A Beard
- The itchy phase is just a phase.
With so many guys out there convinced that they cannot have the beard that they want because it’s “just too itchy,” I’m here to tell you, from firsthand experience, that the itchy phase is just that, a phase. It will pass. I personally believe it to only last about the first three or so weeks, when your beard hairs are just long enough to curl back around and poke your skin, but not yet long enough for the ends to leave your face entirely. It’s at that point (to which all too few men make it) that your beard will cease to itch, so long as you’re still keeping your skin and hair properly nourished with the aid of beard oil and a friendly conditioning soap. So, my advice is to just persevere through a week or two of itching for what will surely be a beard you’ll be glad you grew!
- Your beard becomes thicker with each passing day.
From the first time that I let the ol’ whiskers grow out longer than a few days (sometime in high school, I believe), my beard has grown thicker or denser or what have you with each passing day. When I was fifteen years old, it was barely more than overgrown peach fuzz. Now, ten years later, it’s developed into what most people (including myself) don’t hesitate calling a pretty nice beard. And despite the fact that the space around my lower lip (or soul patch territory) and my philtrum (the very middle of my moustache zone) are a little lighter than my chin and cheeks, even these areas are filling in and becoming increasingly thick with time. In short, the older you get, the hairier you get, and this rule is unfortunately not limited to just your beard.
- Growing a beard does involve some maintenance.
While I will be the first to admit that I originally grew a raggedy and relatively unkempt beard out of a desperation to avoid shaving my face every day, or even every week, as it were, I realize now, working in a professional environment and attempting to prevent those around me from losing their lunch, that growing a beard actually does involve some maintenance. Now, does it involve dramatically less maintenance than shaving your face daily? Yes, of course. However, a beard left to its own devices will most certainly turn on you, and ultimately portray you in a light that you probably don’t want cast on you. Even a long, bushy beard ought to be given a proper framing (i.e., establishing the cheek and necklines) as well as regular moustache checks, which will come into play later in this very list.
- All beards, like fingerprints, are unique.
Besides whatever maintenance, or lack thereof, you subject your beard to, there is one immutable truth that stands to secure every man’s faith in his own facial hair, and that is: All beards are unique. Just as no two human beings have the same fingerprints, so it is also true that no two men have the same beard. Even if two men grow their beards to be nearly identical to one another, there will be characteristics about the one that will not occur in the other, and vice versa. Your moustache and beard configuration is as it is only on your face, and your face alone, which can bring a sense of pride to even the most self-conscious beard-grower.
- It’s the moustache that gives you trouble while eating.
It is a common misconception that a beard will create issues for its wearer while eating something potentially messy, like, say, a loaded cheeseburger, complete with runny fried egg. It is true that the beard is susceptible to accumulating debris, but it’s actually the moustache that is going to play the most significant role in making that burger, or whatever it might be, difficult to enjoy without chewing on your whiskers. Very rarely, if ever, does your beard unintentionally windup in your mouth, but almost every time you go for a bite, without first carefully sweeping the curtain of your moustache aside, you will wind up awkwardly trying to separate delicious, yet half-chewed food from not-all-that-flavorful, but also half-chewed moustache hairs while they’re still attached to you face. The best way to avoid this, harkening back to the note on maintenance, is to keep the moustache hairs trimmed on a line just above the upper lip. It works.
- You now get clumped into groups.
Now, it’s not exactly like you’re made to mandatorily join a certain club or anything like that, but people will make assumptions about you based on your particular beard. For instance, if you have a long, narrow beard with a slicked back hairdo and a pair of thick-framed glasses, you might be considered by some to be a hipster. Similarly, if you’ve never trimmed your beard, not once, nor have you ever oiled or even, god forbid, washed it, you might find that people liken you to a homeless person. A shorter cropped beard is, perhaps, less likely to find you clumped in an unflattering generalization, but in this 21st century, you can’t put excessive judgment past anyone.
- People treat you differently.
Similar to the sixth point on this list, but most likely its cause, rather than its effect, is the realization that people treat you differently when you’ve grown a beard. For some, it may result in a show of reverence or respect that had not heretofore been experienced sans beard. For others, it may manifest in the form of warmth, attraction and kindness directed toward the wearer of a great and welcoming beard. And then, for some envious curmudgeons and harbors of resentment, your beard may inspire within them a burning desire to cut you down, perhaps in a subconscious effort to cut down the beard that they know they cannot grow themselves. In summation, there will be people who love your beard, people who hate your beard and people who are utterly indifferent to it, but it is you whose opinion matters most of all, so wear it proudly and fret not over the aimless judgment of the scornful masses.
- Jacob Smith