If it's not obvious by now, I recently trimmed my beard to approximately half of an inch (to understand the significance of this event, check this out). Don't be sad; this isn't the end, it is simply a new beginning. Since the time of the ceremonial unveiling of the chin, I've experienced what I like to call, phantom beard syndrome. After having a long beard for such a notable amount of time, you become accustomed to certain mannerisms, environmental factors, etc. I find myself reaching for my now nonexistent mane, to pull it out of the way when I'm zipping up a coat. Sometimes I walk into a breeze, and for a moment, I wonder why my face feels so sensitive and somehow colder than normal. I've even noticed that sometimes I automatically reach for my mustache hairs, to push them out of the way of the food I'm about to eat.
What I Most Miss About Having A Beard
I miss having positive recognition. By that I mean, being part of the moment when someone (who has probably just met me) realizes that a long beard can be associated with a person of integrity. For that reason alone, I might have kept my beard. It was also quite nice to have the ability to express my creativity through styling my beard. It's simply in my nature to create. I enjoy making things that are useful, or in this case, things that are aesthetically pleasing.
Lastly, I miss having the super powers that my beard provided me with (heh, if only). Perhaps in a parallel universe I would have the power to make the world a better place, using mostly my beard. Also worthy of note: Sporting something that helped define me as a man, did prove to be useful in some scenarios. Being able to, in a sense " wear my masculinity" will be something that I'll miss.
The Sundry I Can Do Without
Despite what you may think, a beard like the one I had can take a surprising amount of maintenance. I never really adjusted to: washing and conditioning about once every other day, brushing and combing multiple times a day, blow drying and hand drying, and other related activities. Having to constantly maintain it is not something I will miss, but that was never quite as bad my inability to eat without problems. Imagine having to choose between cutting all the food you eat into tiny unsatisfactory pieces, or constantly cleaning your face while eating. That was my life. After a few months of eating with a large sized beard, I did get pretty good at avoiding foodbeard (by that I mean, accidentally getting food in my beard) , but at the very least a small mess would occur almost without fail. There are plenty of minuscule problems related to beard life that I won't miss. Giving my girlfriend a hug, and getting my beard caught in her glasses, for instance. However, the thing I am happiest to live without is negative attention. It's not fun to get looks of disgust or disapproval simply because my appearance doesn't fit the societal norms that many people have grown comfortable with.
Chopped But Not Forgotten
This experience has taught me many things. In some ways, it helped shape me into a slightly different, and better person. To those men that are unsure about having a beard: Assuming you have the option to grow a big healthy beard, to you I say, doing so can become an exciting and positive aspect of your life. A beard can be a powerful thing, and at the very least, it is an experience worth having. Beards for life!