I used to have a tradition when I lived in Virginia. I’d start growing a beard after Thanksgiving, and then shave it off during the spring. My readers would vote on “Beardageddon,” and I could cut my facial hair in whatever style they chose. Most of the time the result was ridiculous, and I’d shave the rest immediately. However in 2010 I liked the “Freebird” result so much I kept it around for another month or so.
I started growing my beard again in August of 2010. That was a lot sooner than usual, but I had a reason: Sedagive? and I were moving to Minnesota. I figured I’d need a full face sweater before we arrived in the frozen Midwest, and I was right. Minnesota had one of the worst winters on record, and I was glad to have a little extra insulation.
May rolled around. Yeah, that was later than I was used to, but it’s a lot colder in Minnesota than it is back home. I polled my readers again to see what they wanted me to do.
You responded, but I couldn’t cut it. I was too attached to my beard, and so I kept growing it for another ten months.
Until this weekend.
This is, without a doubt, the longest my beard has ever been. Sedagive? started braiding parts of it for me starting in late May. I wore my beard in this style almost every day since.
It’s hard to see, but my facial hair is extremely curly — just like my head hair used to be when I had enough of it. My beard is quite a bit longer than it appears. Sedagive? and I straightened it with a flat iron one day, and it is at least an extra inch longer than you see here.
However, it was time for my beard to go, so I busted out my trust Norelco G30 electric trimmer.
The braids were the first to come off:
And now it was time for the Beardageddon 2011 winner:
Except that seemed kind of unlike me, so I present to you:
Not so friendly muttonchops
Unlike the Freebird, I knew this style wasn’t meant to be. I trimmed it immediately after taking a few pictures, and here’s a face folks haven’t seen since August of 2010:
Reactions have been as I expected so far: surprise, then disappointment. Everyone I’ve met within the last fifteen months knew me with facial hair. I knew that Sedagive? loved my beard. Despite some folks who voted in 2011 for me to shave my whole face off, no one has come out and said they prefer me barefaced. I have to admit, I’m not super keen on it either. At least, not yet.
But … why?
I knew it was time for a change when I was too attached to my beard to seriously consider shaving it. Everything changes, and shaving my beard was long overdue.
I also realized I was growing my beard out of defiance for leaving home. 2011 was really difficult for me, but things took a positive turn starting last December. My beard became part of my identity, and as corny as it seems while typing this out, it was an excuse for me to be a different me.
I’m much happier now than I was when I moved here. I still miss my friends, my team at my old job, the weather, the culture, and being able to ride my motorcycle all the time. But I’ve made new friends, did some really cool projects, and have made peace with the ups and downs of the Minnesota climate.
And while it was cool to be identified as “the guy with the crazy beard,” I want to be known for more than just the cable knit sweater hanging off my chin.
Here’s to another Beardageddon.