In the last episode, I recounted my early troubles of growing up without a beard. It may sound like it’s akin to growing up without a father. It’s not by any means, but I was still scarred by it.
I began working my first real, 40+ hour a week job when I was 21. School was on hold, mostly because of my lax attitude toward it. Before starting the job, all new employees had to take a picture for an ID. I remember the day clearly, because when I got the pic, I was reminded of my shame.
My mustache was getting it’s grown man on. It was full, wooly even. I couldn’t tell where it ended and my top lip began it was so thick. Here I was with a man’s ‘stache, yet nothing connected to it. My face was still baby smooth.
I began to wonder, did I offend God some way? Was the lack of a beard retribution for something my ancestors did? It just made no sense to me. I considered trying the razor again, but wisdom prevailed. What was I to do? It was hard to accept, but I figured it just wasn’t meant to be.
One day a couple of years later, I was talking to one of my younger brothers, and he mentioned something about shaving. Now, at the time, I was around 23 or 24, and my brother was about 16. How was this boy going to need to shave? Then I really looked at him. This dude looked like Grizzly Adams! I was 8 years older than him, and he had more facial hair than me! I shouted to the heavens, “why hast thou forsaken my follicles?! Why?!”
I’m pretty sure God didn’t take to kindly to being shouted at like that because a few days later, I got my first gray hair. It stood on my head like a white flag, but I was not going to surrender. As an aside, I’m losing that fight yearly, but at least I’m still alive to fight it.
Anyway, I hit 25, and wouldn’t ya know it, the outline of a beard finally arrived. I threw my hands up in victory like so—> \o/!!! Finally, I would look like a grown man. Or so I thought.
It never filled out. I had the outline of a beard, and some hair even grew in to make it look almost believable. I knew the truth from then on. I would forever be relegated to living the “struggle beard” life.
In the intervening years since the struggle beard arrived, life hasn’t been easy. I find myself not really fitting into either category of people; bearded or unbearded. I’ve been discriminated against. Not for the content of my character, but because I wasn’t part of the beard clan. The clean cuts, as I call them, ostracized me for keeping a goatee.
What was a bruh to do?
I made up my mind to not care what anybody else thought. My
patchy struggle beard and I were going to live life on our terms. I learned how to blend the sections of hair and my goatee so it looked official. Only the trained eye would know the difference. Keeping a close haircut helped blend it all together, for an evened look.
It took me a little while to come to terms with my struggle beard. I’d never encountered anything like it before. Before I accepted it, I was unsure of it’s role in my life. Now I know.
It hasn’t marginalized me at all. Quite the opposite in fact. I have confidence that I can do most of what I choose to. I have the wisdom to know what’s for me and what isn’t. Dare I say, my life is fuller because of the struggle beard. It’s been a blessing, though it really can’t be disguised.