As Barack Obama may tell you, change is a great thing. Without change we cannot really progress and explore new options to be found. Change, however, often comes with loss.
For those who don't have one, a beard may seem like some sort of novelty, perhaps even just something for the lazy folk. Au contraire my folicle-ly challenged friends. A beard is not just something that grows on a man's face. No, no, no. A beard goes deep into a man's heart and soul, and all that the public sees is the extension of that man's character. For me, my facial hair was a way to provide a distraction from the normal unattractiveness of my face. I wasn't lucky enough to be born with great looks, so at an early age I knew I'd have to make up for it in other departments like sports, humor, and academics. In the summer of 8th grade, however, I came upon the realization that facial hair would be a great way to not only seperate myself from the other 14 year olds, but it could also disguise the fact that I was ugly.
When I decided to first grow out the full beard/moustache combo in 9th grade, I didn't know how I would like it, so I assumed it would be a temporary thing. It finally grew in and I never turned back. Sure I had shaved maybe 2 or 3 times throughout the years for a special occasion or something, but it was always with my own approval and was always intentional. My facial hair is really what got me through high school, and I'm afraid to even think where'd I'd be if I had never grown it out. Probably going to a great college with a nice scholarship because I wouldn't have any friends and I'd just spend all my time studying. Instead I was able to broaden my aquaintance horizon, and before I knew it, I was respected throughout the high school for my great beard.
I've never thought of myself to ever be affected by peer pressure. I was always the one who could make my own decisions, whether it be drinking, drugs, or style. I rarely care what other people think of me and I usually try to maintain some sort of uniqueness. For some reason though this last week, I felt obligated to give the people what they wanted, and "mix it up," in terms of my facial hair.
Once before I had gone to get my haircut and I asked for a rediculous "zig-zag" style beard. No one had done it before that I had ever seen, and I was the barber's first in his 15 years of hair cutting. It came out awesome and I was the talk of the town wherever I went. Again, this attempt to be original and hide my facial physical features came together perfectly, and I was on top of the social scene for something I felt awesome about.
So when people began bugging me again this last week to do something with my beard, I knew I'd have to bring back the zig-zag. I was a little hesitant about changing my facial hair because it had been about 6 months since I'd done anything to it, and I was becoming really attached. Having purchased a new beard/goatee trimmer that has a very thin blade for intense detail, though, I thought I could skip the barber and instead do the zig-zag myself. I'm not dumb enough to not think about the consequences, but my 18th birthday was on the 13th, so my confidence was pretty high. The thought of being able to create an epic design on my face by myself got me really going, so all systems were go.
I figured the extension of the moustache towards the chin would be a good starting point to outline the zig-zag, so I shaved down on the "shaver's left" of the moustache. Immediate regret dawned upon me after the first hair was ripped so viciously from its habitat. What had that hair done to me besides provide an outlet for my expression? I couldn't stop, however, and the blade and tears simultaneously progressed down my face. Knowing I had messed up, I tried to find humor in the situation by attempting to salvage what was left of the hair, and create a hulk hogan-esque handlebar moustache. With thoughts of moustache march in the back of my head, I knew keeping the handlebar would be the right thing to do. Maybe it was the tears on my face or the sweat in my palms or just sheer embaressment, but instead of stopping at the moustache I continued on and rid my face of every hair below my eyes.
You think you know loss and you think you know pain, but you don't know anything until you realize that you are solely responsible for the removal and dissappearance of a long time friend. So like a baby I stood in front of the mirror, hair in the sink, tears in my eyes, "Baby Come Back," playing on the shower radio. Of all months to engage in such a terrible act, I pick the one that has three holidays which exemplify who I am - moustache march, my birthday, and St. patricks day.
Walking through the halls in school today, my usual friends avoided discussion of the missing beard seing how obviously distraught I was. Those who had known me only for my beard, however, never stopped the questioning. When kids gathered around my locker to listen to the story, laughter was the usual response. While I concealed my real emotions with a smile on the outside, a part of me died each time I explained what had happened. Teachers didn't recognize me, girls laughed at me, and bully's threw dodgeballs at me.
So next time you hear someone preach about how their change will create something new, great, and exciting, remember that change is just that- removing, altering, modifying and switching. Perhaps change is neccesary on certain fronts, but before you go ahead and show your support, don't forget that which you will leave behind.