I don't really know why I grew my hair out. It had something to do with the pandemic, something to do with finishing my last professional interview, and something to do with sheer curiosity. After my hair had already gotten pretty long, I started to grow out my beard too (with mixed results).
Here are some pictures:
These pictures made me smile! All this took place during one of the most eventful times of my life. You can see my 22nd birthday (the second birthday I spent away from home), my last few weeks at Rice before graduating with some of my closest friends and my dad, the 6'2" snowman we built on new years that made the front page of the paper, two reunions of family and friends, the day I returned to Houston to be part of my "grandbrother's" baptism (I'm a grandbrother because I'm too old to be a regular brother), and the time I spent working on my table to move far, far away from home.
All in all, these events were not affected at all by the length of my hair or how bad my beard was. I have to say this surprised me a little bit, as you'll read below.
expectations vs. reality
Some of my friends would describe me as strait-laced. I generally like to be clean-cut and professional, but if you asked me why I like to be that way I couldn't answer! I'd never tried anything else.
I figured that since I hadn't really rebelled by my senior year of college, I was well past overdue. I didn't really want to do anything that would risk my grades, reputation, or academic standing so I looked around me at all the guys around me with long, flowing locks and decided it would be harmless enough, especially since I didn't have any more interviews coming up.
I have to be honest: I was expecting (maybe even hoping for?) some good-hearted teasing, especially from the older generation, but that never happened! The same people who threatened to cut off my hair with sheep shears for my entire youth actually took a 180-degree turn and told me they like my long hair! I received nothing but compliments and praise during the entire process.
the beard was another story
I've been shaving since early middle school. I hate the puber-stache look (it doesn't go well on anyone). Unfortunately, that's all I was able to grow on my upper lip.
My chin was a lush forest of strong, healthy foliage, but the space just below my nose was a scrubby, dry desert. I received many unsolicited comments about my decision to become a Mennonite (long before that was even on my radar).
Because of this, I would trim my beard but not my mustache to make things look a little more even. This didn't have its intended effect because my mustache was also blonde!
After a while, the beard grew on me and I decided to keep it even though I cut off the vast majority of my hair.
what i learned
These are my main takeaways:
- Little things like hair don't detract from the happiest days of your life.
- The people who loved me as I grew up still love and support me regardless of what I look like.
- Fear of what other people think originates in my head and manifests only in my own actions. In other words, nobody cares how long my hair is!
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