Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The bearded experience

Growing a beard has a lot more to it than it seems. It is a journey and an experience. You'll get to see how people you know react to you differently (or who are the ones able to pretend there's nothing different at all) in both negative and positive lights. You'll also get to see how meeting new people is different than when you didn't have a beard.

So most east Asian can't really grow beards; Chinese especially. I can say I can just barely grow a goatee(that sadly does not connect). Maybe it'll change with time but that's me now. I've grown out my beard for 4 months and the journey is more than I've bargained for.

One of the most common questions I get is why I decided to grow it out. As with so many questions in life the answer is never that simple. The biggest reason that got me to do it was watching some video on YouTube (I don't remember what vid) and someone said "if you can grow a beard, you owe it to yourself to grow it out at least once in your life time". The really resonated in me and I thought why not now.

I didn't just grow it out because someone on some video said I should though. That was more of a push. In many ways it felt like something I had to do for myself. In a form of self discovery and soul searching kind of aspect, I just had to grow out my beard and see another side of me.

It also was a symbol of patience and persistence for me that I wanted to experience. I'll tell you first hand that the resistance a 21 year old Chinese Singaporean will face when growing a beard will be strong. Also, it takes time for a beard to grow out and in that time will be what many call "awkward phases" where your beard just looks awkward hence the name. And there will be many days you doubt your beard will ever not look awkward and that's when most guys end up shaving. So it definitely takes patience and persistence.
The current beard 

Here are some other interesting experiences/observations when growing out a beard:

Socializing - Does a beard aid or hurt me in socializing? From what I have experience it just makes things more extreme. That is to say, when faced with people I've never met before, the ones prone to socializing will find it even easier to socialize with me because the beard is a great topic. While those who are as it is not a big fan of socializing, perhaps the beard comes off as a further deterrent of socializing.

Maintenance - As far as maintenance goes, it really depends on individuals. You can buy the most premium beard oil and beard balm and beard wax and beard trimmer and beard combs and mustache wax etc or you can do nothing. Personally I'm closer to the nothing scale. In fact I wanted to not touch the beard at all but I end up doing so with minimal trimming after about 2 months just to clean it up. I apply oils every once in awhile. Combing is on the daily.

Eating - So it has been said that napkins are a beardsmen best friend and it is true. My beard isn't even that long but it has made me more conscious of it as I eat. Depending on what I'm eating sometimes I wipe my mouth after every bite I take.

Stroking - Yes one of the best things about having a beard is being able to stroke it. Either for fun or maybe I just wanna look wise af when I'm in class. Either way stroking one's beard is just awesome.

Comments - All day everyday I get all kinds of comments and questions.

Looks - So I kinda always looked older than I am as it were in the past. Before growing my beard, the common guess was 24-26 years old. After growing my beard it is 28-30s (damnnnnnn). I even had an elective class where seniors thought I was not only older than them but a graduate student going for my masters or phd. Yeah, that old.

Self-love/ A test of confidence - Perhaps one of the very positive experience is learning to love yourself and being confident in whatever you have. Every beard is going to be different and it is common for guys to set goals when growing out a beard. However most beards never turn out the way we want/expect them to and for some, not even nice at all. But learning to love whatever you got going and not giving in to that little voice in your head and shaving it the very second you feel its not as good as you want it to be is a form of growing stronger.

So how long will does beard stay? Only time will tell!