Yesterday I saw my barber, Pieter “The Sorcerer with Scissors” Van Dusen, over at The Gentleman’s Barber. I met Pieter earlier this year, a couple months after becoming an apprentice beardsman. The beard was a survival accessory for the Rochester, NY winter. There are a handful of challenges to growing a beard besides the obvious, “How do I grow a proper beard?”
I began to learn there are stigmas attached to the bearded life. Random people feel obligated to comment on it. Quite a few people associate beards with the disheveled or homeless. Strangers feel comfortable touching it without permission. I have never told anyone they have an awful hairdo, called them homeless, or attempted to stroke their hair (without their insistence). I knew I was going to have to mean business and break some classic perceptions people have of bearded folk. The search for a proper barber was on!
After researching the best shop in town via net, word-of-mouth and portfolio, Pieter quickly earned my admiration. Here was a man taking the time educate me on different hair/beard styles and grooming products without making me feel insignificant for not knowing about such things. I actually had zero apprehension about putting my hair in his hands. I had enough awful haircuts, what did I have to lose?
When the job was done, I had a completely different look than anything else I had ever tried previously. It complimented the beard and I felt like a million dollars. My confidence soared. It took a little time for my wife to adjust. People fear change, it was an adjustment for my co-workers. Hell, I fear change, but it is a good way to excise negative people out of your life. Friends will support you (often with a little good hearted humor), bad influences will always be looking to knock you down a peg or two.
I have limited flexibility with the scrubs I wear at the hospital, so hair and beard are two of the only ways I have to express myself. I was terrified the brass at work would make me get rid of the beard. Fortunately that has not happened yet. None of my patients commented negatively on the beard. Ultimately none of that matters anyway. What matters is this simple step has allowed me to feel significantly better about myself.
I receive more positive feedback on my look these days than I can ever remember. That is not the goal, just added encouragement. I take more of an active interest in keeping my appearance looking sharp and enjoy doing it more than my previous DIY efforts. It has added 10 minutes to my morning routine and that is a small price to pay.