With every great accomplishment comes milestones of pride and progress that remind us of the personal quest we’ve embarked on. For every mountain climbed or skill honed, we determine benchmarks that allow us to measure how far we’ve come and far we have yet to go. Although most of these quests don’t involve grooming for the most part, becoming a beardsman is certainly an exception.
Growing that first real beard is pivotal for each of us and, for better or worse, it helps each guy decide if being a beardsman is something that he really wants. Of course, no great beard is grown in a day, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t chart your progress and check off various milestones as you begin to embrace the new and bearded you. Every beardsman has his own defined personal milestones, but there are certainly a few that stretch across the board.
1. Uniform Scruff
Even the greatest beards have small beginnings, however, that doesn’t mean that your beard’s foundation is something that shouldn’t be celebrated. Anywhere from a week to two after you stop shaving, you’ll begin to see a fine layer of scruff slowly enveloping your face and neck. This, fellow beardsmen, is a great phase of the bearded process. Take in your new, more rugged mug and enjoy the grittier look of your once youthful and shaven face.
Of course, most guys’ beards don’t grow at a uniform rate so your scruff might not be the same length on your cheeks as it is on your chin, but who cares? This is merely the first step on your bearded journey and a great time to simply reflect and enjoy the view. Think of this as stopping to take a photo of the “Welcome to” sign when you enter a new state during a road trip. The fun has only begun.
2. Trimming Your NeckLine
Eventually your eager scruff grows to the point where it needs to be tamed a bit. Now depending on how strong your jawline is, some guys opt to simply let their beards go as is. For the rest of us though, trimming your neckline is an essential pillar of the bearded journey. Everyone has their own take on where and how you should go about determining your neckline, but we always abide by the theory that you should find where your neck and head meet and simply use that as your guide, simple as that.
Although having scruff is certainly part of the beard growing process, once you’ve trimmed your neck you can officially consider yourself a beardsman knowing that you’ve made the commitment and spent the time taming your facial hair without tampering with it too much. Take your due time to admire your accomplishment and think of this step as you would surprisingly concocting an amazing, impromptu meal while camping – pure pride and surprisingly efficient.
3. The Curling Mustache
After a few months, your beard will be hearty and you’ll have fully embraced the newfound life of being a beardsman. Of course, with such progress comes our next major milestone: your mustache curling into your mouth. This stage requires some trial and error, but eventually you’ll be able to figure out what works best for you, between trimming your mustache or using wax to shape your whiskers out towards the sides of your mouth. There’s no right or wrong option, it’s simply a question of personal preference.
Although there are a number of other ways that your beard will remind you of its presence, the feeling of accidentally biting down on your mustache while enjoying a delicious sandwich or taco is a good wakeup call. In that moment, before you opt to make necessary bearded adjustments, simply nod to yourself in recognition of your accomplishment. Many young beardsmen give up prior to this pivotal stage, but not you – no way, no how. In that moment of personal acknowledgement, think of your curling mustache as spotting a plant or animal along your road trip not found in your home state, a great reminder of the journey you’re on and a sign of things to come.
4. Finding Debris In Your Beard
Believe it or not, this most certainly happens to a lot of beardsmen. Maybe not quite to the extent that many onlookers might think, but we’ve all found a small twig or food or maybe even a tooth pick that we were saving for later in our beards. Although some might not think of this is as a moment of pride, embrace it and recognize it as another milestone along your beardsman journey.
If you happen to be called out for something in your beard, simply joke along with the identifier and continue on. It’s funny when it happens, even when the person it happens to is you. If this happens in a public setting, head off to the bathroom to make sure there’s nothing else hiding among your lush man mane and take this as a time to reflect on the bearded journey thus far. Finding something in your beard is like stopping to see the world’s largest ball of string or Graceland: recognize it for its importance, but also appreciate the moment with a sense of humor.
5. The Yeard
Having a beard is a very communal experience, however, the process of growing one is deeply personal. Every beardsman has different opinions about length, style, and grooming and frankly, not everyone is cut out for going twelve months without shaving. For those who are though, growing a yeard can be both a rewarding and deeply satisfying experience.
A year’s worth of facial hair may seem like a lot, however, over the course of that time span you’ll have experienced dozens of personal bearded milestones that have prepared you for this monumental achievement. Everyone can grow a beard, but most beardsmen don’t have the tenacity to grow a yeard. Just like observing the Grand Canyon at dawn or beholding Mt. Rushmore while humming the national anthem, gazing upon your yeard should be a moment shrouded in pride and patriotism.