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The People's Blog Vol. 4: Freedom Beard

The People's Blog Vol. 4: Freedom Beard

Freedom Beard: By Andrew Carlisle

 

Like many guys growing through life, I was always curious what I would look like with a beard and thought guys with beards were set apart from the rest. An early influence was my CrossFit coach Shaun, everywhere he went had men look at his beard with envy. During my Army service in 2014-2017, shaving was a daily discipline with the slightest stubble having the grounds for corrective training. This further ignited a curiosity of what I would look like with a beard, so after my departure from the Army, I began to grow a freedom beard.

I've experienced mountain highs and rock bottom lows these last six years I've had a beard, but the thing that I have gained the most during my time with facial hair is freedom.

"Many who grow a beard speak of how it changed their life for the better, but that is not my story."

I hated my beard. No YouTube video, livestream, or beard product ever changed my feelings towards it. I hated the patches, I hated how frizzy it got in the Texas humidity, and I utterly despised my mustache, though many say it is my best feature. What I thought would bring me happiness instead brought insecurity and depression towards the way I viewed myself. I will credit growing a beard to leading me to a community where I've made great friends, and discovered my favorite scent, LEATHER!!!.  Yet a beard had never satisfied me like I always thought it would. 

Now how has facial hair brought me freedom if I hated it so much? Because it has challenged me to confront and deny the struggles that come against how I view myself. Though the foundation of my beard growth was the curiosity of how I would look, let's be honest and ask how many of us look in the mirror not satisfied with the man staring back at us? While growing a beard may have satisfied the itch for others, it only intensified the itch for me. I hated the way I looked and constantly spoke down upon myself with disgust over what I saw in the mirror. I wanted so much to love and be happy with my beard, but nothing I had done to that point brought me the satisfaction that a beard brought my fellow bearded community members.  

In the summer of 2022 I made the decision to shave my beard after Texas triple digits was causing me to loose my sanity. I shaved in sections to prepare for any insecure feelings of being clean shaven, and as I got closer to the skin I found myself smiling from ear to ear. I had made jokes over the years that I would never shave, but as I looked at myself in the mirror I experienced genuine happiness and joy of who I saw staring back at me. The confidence probably would have been stronger if 8-Bit had shaving products, cough, cough. 

Shaving my beard helped me to confront and deny the insecurities of how I viewed myself. I began a journey of loving myself as I was, not as I wanted to be, or how others wanted me to be, but who I am-as I am. When I decided to grow the beard back, those insecurities returned, yet I was determined to fight back and love myself as I was. I got patches? I'm going to love myself as I am! My beard frizzes up like a birds nest? I'm going to love myself as I am! My mustache is a rebel scum and makes my blood boil and turns my hair white? I'm going to shave it and laugh while doing it…okay, fine. I'm going to love myself as I am!

I want to challenge you to join me in growing a freedom beard. Not a freedom beard grown from military separation, but freedom from the insecurities you are facing. If you feel insecure about the way you look clean shaven, I want to challenge you to experience freedom from that insecurity and to love yourself as you are. If you are like me and you are insecure about the way you look with a beard, I want to challenge you to join me in experiencing freedom from that insecurity and to love ourselves as we are. We will always be our biggest critic and find things we don't like about ourselves, yet we can experience freedom from these struggles.

I want to leave you with 3 simple ways that we can discipline ourselves in experiencing freedom from insecurities we may face in our bearded journeys.

If there is one thing I learned while struggling with an alcohol addiction, it is isolation is a death sentence. If you struggle loving yourself (shaven or bearded), surrounding yourself in a community is crucial in changing the way we see ourselves. When I hated the way I looked, I always had others challenging me that my facial hair is nowhere near as bad as I make it out to be. Not only in this area, but being in community was crucial in my struggles with addictions and suicidal thoughts. Without community, I would not be alive today. Shaun has created a supportive and encouraging community on his Instagram as well as a private Facebook group where you can be encouraged wherever you are in your journey. You can find the group here. https://www.facebook.com/groups/6330868316946062

Though I struggled loving myself with a beard, I never hindered in taking care of my beard. Though I have on many times neglected in consuming enough water and nutrition, I never left the house without having conducted a routine to present my beard in a professional manner. Working in a restaurant, customers don't want hairs in their food and the health department wouldn't take too kindly to hearing those complaints. Using quality products can help uplift the way you see yourself with the proper routine. 8-Bit has created products to assist you from shower goods, to oils, balms, and butters. Tools such as quality combs, blow dryers, and brushes can help you craft your beard into the style you desire. Use the community for tips and questions you may have to help you care for the style you have chosen. 

Finally, if you want to experience freedom in the way you view yourself, you have to make the decision to do it. Nothing I have suggested or spoken will bring freedom unless you make the decision that you want to experience it. Though you may have victories and good times, like the addictions that almost killed me, struggles are creative and always find a way back. It is a constant battle, yet it is achievable and you are more than capable to overcome the struggles that come against you. You have the community and the tools, and I hope that you gain an unmovable and conquering spirit that nothing that comes against you will prosper. That you will love yourself as you are, and encourage others that they can do the same.

Whatever style you choose, go with the freedom that is available to you. You are perfect just the way you are. Whether you like being clean shaven, rocking a business beard, medium beard, or long beard, love yourself as you are and enjoy the journey. 

God Bless

-Andrew Carlisle

Joshua 1:9

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1 comment

Andrew my brother this was a great read! Thanks for being so open and honest with this, which I know is never an easy thing. You are an amazing human – beard or no beard – and I’m so glad you’re my friend.

Chris Perez,

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