How could others perceive this beard? Yes, it’s black, a few stray whites, and about two inches in length. But what does it say to them about me? What’s the gut reaction people experience when they see me with a full beard and ponytail.
Sometimes I can be a bit sheepish of their ideas, but I remember, I’m just me and this beard is part of me. And they’ll have to accept it.
What makes a man grow a beard anyway? Freedom? Rebellion? Sex appeal? Maybe it’s none of these reasons.
I never sat down and told myself, “I’m going to stop shaving,” or “I want to fit the part of this beard movement.” When I was a young man, living under my father’s roof, and for a very long time, I wasn’t allowed to grow out my beard.
At the time many of my friends were experimenting growing facial hair in myriad of ways. Essentially expressing themselves by growing rediculous mustaches or Elvis sideburns. And then there was me, clean-shaven, with a trip to the barber bi-weekly, just like dad. But I didn’t want to be.
Eventually as we all do, I left the house, but I didn’t just start growing out the beard. I remained clean shaven for many years, somewhat insecure, and not able to identify with facial hair. I had the idea that a proper man is clean shaven and well groomed. And that if I grew facial hair others would see me as a renengade. Really, I was struggling with my own masculinity and self-perception.
I know this now, but sometimes navigating life we come into contact with a few genuine souls. Never forget about them, because they will inspire you. We just don’t know it at the time.
And that’s what happened. I made a couple of great friends. Men, with facial hair. And they were great guys, still beyond wonderful today. And with facial hair.
Being around these gentlemen, I started to relax. Had some fun, some great times. Nobody ever said anything about my lack of facial hair. But once in a while, I’d skip shaving and rock the stubble for a couple days.
We were great friends, and I felt with these guys I finally got to express myself. What I had been longing to do. And here and there the beard came out a little more and for a little longer each time.
Until finally, I had the self-confidence to say this beard is staying out for a while. And when I see dad, I’m not going to have to explain anything. And he never said anything about it. He accepted it, and he accepted me for who I am. His son. Bearded.
Hidden behind mustaches, gotees, soul patches, and beards. There’s a struggle we know nothing about. What is this man going through? Where’s he been?
Further, we don’t know the struggles of anyone. So before we say that woman is wrong, because she has blue hair and a nose piercing, or that man is odd, because he has his chin beard in a braid. Say that man is wonderful, because he is a human being.