the importance of hanging in there

A site visitor wrote in with encouraging words that underscore the value of not abandoning all hope. His essay is quoted here, with permission, in its entirety:

I would like to offer encouragement to all fair-haired guys who have lost faith in their capabilities for beard growing when they compare themselves to their dark friends with steel wool whiskers who have a visible beard after 3 or 4 days of not shaving.

I have light brown hair but nature saw it fit to give me a white blond mustache and mouche and light brown sideburns with a slight reddish cast to them (Scottish ancestors I guess). I never tried to grow a beard for more than 3 or so weeks as it always looked like one of those attempts which one forces in high school — patchy, multicolored, and feeble, with bits missing between the goatee and the sideburns. It also seemed to grow extremely slowly (when compared to other people).

After not shaving on an extended vacation the year I turned 35, I was freed of the self-judgement and self-consciousness which usually put paid to my attempts in the past and I hung in there for more than a month. My beard underwent a dramatic transformation after 6 weeks, when all of a sudden it filled in and out and looked like ­ a Beard!

When I shaved it off after a couple of months (a mistake which I set about rectifying as soon as I had done it), my boss’ comment to me was: “why did you shave, the beard made you look ‘power'”!

Since I have grown it back, I have been getting nothing but good feedback from people (male and female) and it has done wonders for my confidence in my appearance.

So to all of you mouse-brown, blond, or ginger guys out there, give it at least 6 — 8 weeks. Hang in there and let it grow, you will be surprised with the results.

the shaving trap

In Garrett’s beard feature, he reveals a fundamental mechanism for getting caught in the shaving trap. He and other high school students who are among the first to develop facial hair are frequently required to shave because of school dress codes. So they shave and the shaving habit easily becomes entrenched, almost automatically. What’s more is that these early shavers set an example for those who develop facial hair later. So they may be more inclined to follow the trend and conform, even if it’s after they are out of high school.

This illustrates how the practice of shaving facial hair gains an early foothold. Once established, it may remain resistant to change. If shaving requirements are lifted, many report to that they soon decide to grow beards to celebrate their new freedom. A common example of this is when a man leaves the military.

Beware of the shaving trap. You can break free of it — eventually, depending on your own circumstances — and grow your beard.