Category: beard

i am not my beard

I buzzed my beard off the other night because I was tired of the rough texture.  I went to work the next day and was met with audible gasps.  Not good audible gasps, either.  More like shock and terror.

“What did you do to your face?”

“Where’s the beard?”

“You…you shaved it?”

“Grow it back!”

People acted like I was missing an eye or a nose instead of facial hair.  I know they didn’t mean to make me feel bad but they did.  I didn’t realize I was some gargoyle and the only thing that kept people from bursting into tears at the site of me was my beard.  It was a mask, a filter, a softening lens that cranked down my deformed face.

Or maybe it was just the shock of seeing my face look so different so fast.  As I grew the beard, everyone was slowly introduced to bearded Bran, including myself.  And taking it all off with a few strokes of the clippers was a bit jarring.  I had the beard for nearly three months and it just became a part of me as if it were always there and suddenly it wasn’t.  I didn’t recognize the smooth stranger in the bathroom mirror.

I didn’t like everyone’s reaction.  I didn’t even like my own.  I didn’t regret buzzing it off but I do like the way I look better with a beard.  But my face feels so much better without one.  When I had the beard, I combed and clipped and conditioned and even through in some argon oil to soften the facial hair but it still felt too rough for my liking.  And sometimes when I slept on my side or stomach, the facial hair against the pillow really irritated my cheeks.

I also realized maintaining facial hair was actually more intensive than just shaving it clean off.  There’s a lot of maintenance involved.  Clipping.  Washing.  Conditioning.  Keeping the neckline even and clean.  Trying not to get food or bugs or girls’ fingers caught in it.  Serious upkeep.

Yes, the beard will come back but I won’t do it for anyone else but myself.  This is kind of a big deal because I’ve always been so used to doing things the way others wanted, living and looking the way others have dictated.  But I’m not doing that anymore.  In fact, I am thinking about holding off on growing the beard back even longer than I normally would just out of spite!  Take that, jerks.

It’s gonna be my choice, no one else’s.  And I’m going to rock it either way. 

I think just about every guy has done this at least one time when debearding.

bran before and after

I waited a whole year for this picture.

When I saw the picture of my sister and me together last Christmas, I was heartbroken.  I was so big.  How did I get that large and not notice?  I’m sure I was in denial, sure I could ignore it until things in my life changed for the better so I could focus on bettering myself.  But nothing changed and when I saw the photo, I knew I had to be that change.

I told myself I would not repeat that Christmas picture looking the way I did.  Long time readers will know I’ve been dieting and exercising all year.  I’ve lost approximately 50 pounds.  I’ve probably gained at least 10 of them back in the past 2 months (I’ve been too ashamed to weigh myself lately so I don’t know the exact number) due to birthday bingeing but that’s another entry for another time.  For now, I want to focus on the positive.  Yes, I actually can do that sometimes.

I was excited to take this year’s Christmas picture, anxious to see the changes.  It wasn’t as big of a transformation as I was hoping.  Sure, clothing and lighting and angles play a significant role in revealing the body but I thought 50 pounds would show a more dramatic change. That’s not to say I’m not happy with the difference.  I definitely look better and I’m happier where I am right now.  I can mostly tell in my face, which is good.  But I still have a belly.

I’m working on it, though.  I didn’t put the weight on in a year and it will take more than a year to lose it.

I’m cool with that as long as I’m always making progress.

Starting January 1st, I’m going to begin my diet and exercise anew and at the end of the year, I’ll take another Christmas picture and hopefully I’ll see more positive changes.  And no man boobs.

Left: Christmas 2011 with my sister.  Right: Christmas 2012 with my sister.

beard is good

Having lost a little over 50 pounds and wishing to change my appearance further, I wanted to grow a beard.  No Shave November was coming up so I thought it would be a great time to try it.  I have always wanted to, mostly just to see if I could, but also to see how I’d look with one.

I thought growing a beard would reduce blemishes while covering up current ones (which it has).  I thought having a beard would save time not having to shave (which it hasn’t because trying to groom the beard is just as time consuming as shaving it off).  I also thought it would be cool to grow a thick beard and use it as a shield.  You know how some people can hide behind their glasses or heavy makeup?  I don’t have those options so I thought I could keep people at a distance with my beard.  For a dude who sometimes strongly craves a connection with others, I also want to push myself away a lot of the time.  I know.  It’s messed up.

I actually stopped shaving mid-October when I took my staycation because I have never grown one before and I knew Thanksgiving was coming up so I wanted to try to get a pre-beard going so I could shape it up and make it presentable in front of the relatives in time for the holiday.

After a week of not shaving, I went back to work and was surprised to find a positive response.  For me, I thought I looked just kind of dirty.  But all the girls not only approved but gave me a lot of compliments.  It was nice.  It was also very surprising.  I always thought girls generally shied away from fuzzy faced men.  Sure, there are ladies who are happy with hirsute gentlemen but I thought they were in the minority.  I was wrong.

Amazingly, the general consensus was that my beard is good.

I’ve learned a lot about my beard this month.  First of all, it’s a multitude of colors, ranging from brown to blonde to-get this-red!  In fact, a large patch of hair on my right cheek is a nice coppery color.  Who knew I was a ginger?  I guess that partly explains why I have no soul.

Also, it grows in every direction possible.  The hair on my left side grows down.  The hair on my chin grows to the right and the  hair on my right side actually grows toward horizontally across my cheek.  This has made it difficult to maintain the uniformity of the beard while trimming.  I don’t know if trimming is allowed during No Shave November.  It probably isn’t but I work with the public so I have to maintain some sense of being groomed.

Not only did I want to cut down on the mountain man look but I also hoped frequent trimming would tame the quickly growing hairs while allowing for the tiny baby hairs to catch up and fill in.

Now, No Shave November is over and although I didn’t exactly grow the beard just for November but in some ways, I’m ready to shave it off.  Now I face a seemingly unimportant decision:  do I shave or do I keep it?  It’s not a decision I’m taking lightly.  I’m not developing an ulcer over it or anything but I’ve worked really hard on this bad boy.  I’ve clipped and trimmed and plucked and sculpted and shampooed and washed and itched and scratched and sure if I shave it, it will grow back.  But it took a long time to get it the way it is now and I don’t want to have to go through all that prep again.

Plus, I’m saving a lot on razors.

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