The idea of cutting my beard had always come and gone since the first days of growth. It wasn’t until year four that the notion really started to gain a foothold. Like many things, my determination to keep growing wasn’t dashed in one fell swoop, but slowly chiseled at.
Here’s a few of the unforeseen strikes:
- Fastening a bicycle or motorcycle helmet
- Tying a tie
- Zipping a jacket
- Giving someone a hug and then trying to look left or right
As year five of unshorn-dom approached, so did the birth of my son. Several folks were quick to remind me that small sticky fingers were hard to unravel from a beard and baby puke didn’t wash out easily. Once I started seriously contemplating trimming a few (9) inches off the bottom, the pros and cons lined up accordingly:
- Small sticky toes (not fingers) wouldn’t get caught in it
- It wouldn’t catch fire when reaching across our new gas range
- People would stop asking me how long I’ve been growing it
- Most importantly, I wouldn’t end up cutting it in a fit of rage, leading to perhaps too many inches removed
- People might react negatively to my decision
- The realization that I was sort of attached to all five years of growth
One night I finally decided to do it. I entrusted my partner to do the deed and thirty minutes later I’d shed several inches of beard length. As I cleaned up the bathroom, I could feel the anxiety floating in.
“What’ll my coworkers think?”
“How about my acquaintances?”
“Folks I know online?”
The next day I rolled into work and sure enough… nobody noticed. For three hours! Finally someone said, “Did you get a haircut?”
“Sort of”, I said. Another co-worker didn’t notice until days had gone by. So much for my anxiety surrounding people’s reactions.
Something else I was wildly incorrect about was the assumption that people would stop asking me about how long I’d been growing my beard. In fact, the whole ordeal become more difficult. Where as before I could simply reply, “Five years!” Now I had this whole complicated story that ended up sounding like, “Well, it used to be longer, and that was five years. But then I cut about half of it off… so… I guess 2.5 or three years of growth?” As you can imagine this doesn’t have quite the same impact.
This whole ordeal is yet another lesson of life, bucketed in the category of: I have no idea what is going to happen in the future. The assumptions and anxieties will result in nothing more than that: assumption and anxiety. Sometimes you just have to cut two (or 2.5) years off your beard and see what shakes out.