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April 28, 2016

Inner Growth Through Outer Growth: 6 Things my Beard Taught Me.

Unsplash/Frank Marino

Time and time again, we get the urge to try something different to shake up the monotony of our daily routines or simply tick something off our bucket list.

In doing so, we get a great deal of satisfaction, fulfillment and a sense of achievement in accomplishing something we’ve never tried before. Everyone is different of course—we each have our own ideas of what we want to achieve and what things we would like to try next. That being said, there are some common items which crop up on the bucket lists of many.

For men, one thing which exists on almost all of our lists is the desire to grow a beard.

I myself had always opted for the “clean and tidy” approach to grooming—short hair and clean shaven. I’ve never had my hair long, and the life span of my stubble was generally between three and five days. However, a little over two years ago, things took a drastic turn, and life as I knew it would never be the same.

For a lot of men, and certainly in my case, growing a beard was nothing more than a pipe dream. I would always talk myself out of it and come up with feeble excuses:

“It will take too long.”

“It will feel too rough against my skin.”

“It will look ridiculous.” 

“It will be too itchy.” 

“Food will get stuck in it.”

“Women won’t like it.”

In many cases, there is a source of “beard inspiration” involved in the initial stages—someone who encourages you and motivates you to “man up”—for want of a better expression—and take that first step. A beard you want to emulate.

My friend Cody had in his possession a truly magnificent beard, which simply commanded the respect of a room. It was an absolute joy to behold, and I was in awe of it.

One night, while toasting the end of another work week over a few beers, I started to pour my heart out. I declared my admiration for his glorious beard, and explained to him how much I wanted to grow one, but that I feared I wasn’t worthy of such discernible masculinity.

I can’t recall the exact words he said to me, but it was somewhere along the lines of:“You can dude—just sh*t or get off the pot, and do it!”

Cody’s words provided the slap in the face that I needed. I would stop shaving immediately, thus embarking on a wonderful journey of self-discovery.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

Beards increase productivity. Beards (to some people) suggest scruffiness, carelessness, sluggishness and even a lack of hygiene. I can tell you unequivocally, that the complete opposite is true. A huge amount of care and love goes into maintaining a beard. It becomes a ritual—a part of your routine—and you will take huge pride in it. You may even find yourself becoming more organized, productive and efficient in other aspects of your life as a result.

Beards get respect. There is a mutual appreciation amongst men, for the effort and sacrifice involved in growing and maintaining a beard. Complete strangers will often approach with approving handshakes and words of encouragement. Sometimes they will go out of their way to show their appreciation—perhaps they might offer to buy you a whiskey, or they may offer to sharpen your axe, something along those lines.

Beards transcend cultural boundaries. They have the ability to break down social barriers and bring people closer together. People from any and all cultural backgrounds will find you interesting, and they will want to ask more about your fascinating journey. Language barriers do not stop people approaching and engaging. You may find that perfect strangers will become entranced by its wonder—they may want to touch it, or they may just stare at it, “ooooh-ing” and “aaaaah-ing” in its presence.

Beards exemplify perseverance. Beards are a true representation of inner strength; after persevering through that initial itchy “looks-like-sh*t” phase, any future obstacles or challenges you may face will seem insignificant in comparison.

Beards are endearing. You will seem more approachable in social situations in the eyes of the opposite sex. Some girls like them, and some girls don’t, but in either case they will be drawn to it and will want to find out more about its mystery. It breaks the ice, with masculinity and self-assurance—no awkward chit-chat required.

Beards evoke leadership. Others will look to you for guidance and direction. They will follow your lead in the hope that they will arrive at their destination safely. Beards have the power to inspire and to motivate others—they provide support, comfort, strength and hope for the weak and weary.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the journey, and it was an extremely fulfilling learning experience. Sometimes I think back and wish I could have it again, but sadly—I will always be that “clean-cut” guy at heart.

Go forth now with this knowledge, and embark upon your own journey of self-discovery. If like me, you think you can’t, and you find yourself coming up with well-groomed excuses as to why you shouldn’t—believe me, you can. You just have to let it happen.

“Just sh*t or get off the pot, and do it!”

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Author: Patrick Hyland

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Unsplash/Frank Marino

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Patrick Hyland