Whenever you adopt a new style or look, it’s always the initial period after the change that takes the most getting used to. Depending on how seismic of a shift you make, going from flip-flops to sneakers being at one end of the spectrum with opting for a purple mohawk at the other, the adoption period can take time for some people. Of course, growing out your beard for the first time is no different.
Although every guy experiments with facial hair when they’re first going through puberty, the real test comes when a man decides to fully commit to growing a beard, along with the patience, maintenance, and confidence needed to soldier on through both the highs and lows of initial beardsmanship. We’re not just referring to the yeard here either, although we support you in that most noble of bearded quests. Every man experiences various trials and tribulations during that first year of opting to skip regular shaving. Here are five of the most common:
1. Beards Don’t Grow Evenly
It seems silly to assume that your beard would grow perfectly even, but most guys are under that belief when they begin to embrace the beardsman within. Very few of us can say with 100% certainty that the hair on top of our heads grows evenly, there’s always some sort of discrepancy, especially as men age and their hair patterns begin to evolve. Beards, of course, are no different.
Over the course of a year, beardsmen slowly start detecting the growth patterns of their facial hair, knowing that maybe their mustaches grow slower or that hair starts growing in above their cheekbones only after a week or two of not shaving. Every guy’s beard is unique and after a year of getting to know your own, you’ll know your personal beard like the back of your hand (or the front of your face).
2. People Treat You Differently With a Beard
Just like when you dramatically shift your style of clothing or opt for a new, distinct haircut, onlookers will develop assumptions about you when they notice your new beard. It might seem minimal at first, but the longer your beard gets, the more you’ll notice people viewing you differently.
This ranges from what they think you do for a living to your drinking preferences to your preferred modes of transportation. There’s even a chance that they might hit the nail on the head in certain circumstances, but other times you might need to do your best to not roll your eyes. Of course, the longer you have your beard, and the more people get used to seeing you with it, the less they’ll even notice the change and eventually the bearded you will be the new norm for your friends and family.
3. Everyone Is Curious About Your Beard
During your first year as a beardsman, you will be asked every question imaginable about your newer, scruffier look. Everything from “Is it hot/itchy?” to “Do you ever get things stuck in it?” to “Can I touch it?” will become commonplace discussion topics, and it’s up to you to decide how and when to reply.
For the most part it will be the fairer sex asking the widest variety of questions, simply because they’re incapable of growing beards themselves. Of course you can choose to give simple, one word responses, but as a natural conversation starter, use your beard to educate people about the realities of facial hair and do your part in breaking down some of the negative stereotypes associated with not shaving. Oh and if you plan on letting people touch your beard, do your best to make sure both their hands and your face are clean. Whatever you expect from them make sure you’re exhibiting the same level of respect.
4. People Will Assume It’s a Phase
Undoubtedly, when you first grow out your beard everyone will assume that you’re going through a phase. People will think you’ve just recently gone through a breakup, picked up a used copy of Thoreau’s Walden, or you’re simply growing a beard because it’s the “popular thing to do” and frankly, who cares? We all make decisions based on personal observations and even if you decide to grow a beard simply because you thought it would make you look cool, it doesn’t really matter.
Every beardsman has his own backstory, his own tale of how he came to let Mother Nature take the reigns of his handsome mug, but it’s not why you started growing a beard that matters. No, instead it’s why you continued that really explains why you’ve adopted the beardsman lifestyle. Let people assume whatever they want, all that matters is what you know to be true.
5. Everyone Has an Opinion About Your Beard
After their initial curiosity, everyone you know will adopt an opinion about your beard and it usually comes down to simply being “for” or “against” it, black or white with very occasional shades of grey. Depending on your line of work, the length of your beard will certainly come up with your boss or coworkers, but as facial hair becomes the new norm in offices across the country, make sure it’s your work that’s doing the talking rather than your beard.
Additionally, beards are a major dividing line when it comes to dating. There are the occasional individuals who favor a fine layer of scruff, but for the most part your potential significant others are either going to be big fans of your beard or strongly detest it. Just as with anything else, everyone has his or her own opinions, but as long as you stay true to yourself and exude confidence, your beard is very unlikely to come between you and a girl or guy you see across the room. Unless you mean in the intimate sense, but that’s another situation all together.