Like a lot of guys, my hair has fluctuated between quite short and proper short for pretty much the last 25 years. OK, around ten years ago I had a minor dalliance with growing it out, but that didn’t last long. My man hair got way too messy when it started creeping over my ears. I hit the barber shop and stepped away from the brink.
Then at the end of January this year I had my last proper haircut. It was cut short, very short. As had become the norm for me.
But somewhere around early March I started thinking what if I just let it grow?
The Beginnings of Growing Long Hair
I’m not sure exactly what triggered it. I’d recently started woodworking, making chairs from oak and sycamore in my garage. Perhaps it was a need to express my new-found creativity in my physical appearance.
I’d also been rediscovering a few bands from way back: INXS, Poison, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Vinegar Joe. Perhaps those longhairs were influencing my decision a bit too. And I’d just started playing guitar again.
I think I also wanted to be different. I’ve always kinda been that way anyway. Yeah, I know, everyone wants to be different, which probably makes me the same as everyone else! Anyway, I also liked the idea that it wasn’t instant gratification. I was going to need to be patient.
So, I missed a haircut. And then another. I had the ends tidied up a bit after a few months. And then things started to go very wrong on top of my head.
Enter the awkward phase. At one point, my girlfriend told me I looked like I had a bow tie stuck on top of my head.
Awkward Stage Hair
I’d read about this, waiting for it to happen. Worried about the impact it would have on my life and how I’d look in the office as my hair started doing its own crazy thing. But I was also kinda looking forward to the challenge.
When I hit the awkward phase, probably about five months in, I really had to dig deep to resist the barber’s chair.
I looked like an idiot most days. People started to ask me if I was growing my hair out and what my girlfriend thought about it all.
I had a great comeback that I’ve adapted from The Longhairs – more on them later – “there’s a party on my shoulders and my hair is invited, it’s just taking a while for it to make the journey.”
There were one or two cool moments.
But most of the time, it was just a pain in the ass.
Hitting the awkward stage was a lot like quitting smoking. Every day that I didn’t climb into the barber’s chair was a small victory. Just one more day without a haircut. Hang in there, one day at a time, baby. Think of the bigger picture.
Every time I felt like I was going to crack, I reminded myself of the long game, the goal of having kickass long hair. Not a lot of dudes grow their hair long and there’s a reason for it. It is hard to power through the awkward phase.
I decided that if I ever wanted a haircut, I’d remind myself of why I started doing this and I made a pact to wait at least two weekends before diving in and quitting it. If there was even just a glimmer of wanting to carry on in that time, then I would keep on going.
Easier to keep creeping forward than to hack it all off in a moment of weakness and regret it a few days, weeks or months later.
The Longhairs And Hair Tips To Power Me Through
I found help on the internet. Trawling through tips on hair control and how to keep on growing, I happened upon a site called The Longhairs. And dang, these dudes were a big help. I subscribed to their newsletter and started getting a whole load of hope, determination, tips and regular words of wisdom delivered into my inbox on a regular basis.
Props to the Longhairs. If you’re on the journey of growing your hair out, then you have to make a connection with those dudes. End of.
I was starting to get an idea of where I wanted my hair to go. I think I’m aiming for a bob now. So I’ve been having the back cut, so that the sides and the front can catch up and I can sidestep the 1980s mullet look at least.
I re-learned how to wash my hair (focus on the roots), condition it (just hit the tips), combing wet hair instead of brushing and just giving myself any possible edge to dig in there and ride out the awkward stage shit storm.
And there have been some great firsts as well. Seeing my hair wafting around in my line of vision out to the left for the first time, feeling it blowing in the wind was weird too. And a couple of random acquaintance guys that have slightly long hair noticing what I’m doing and making some encouraging noises. It all helps.
Just in the last couple of weeks, getting my girlfriend to show me how to use straighteners was a turning point too.
Surviving Awkward Stage Hair? Maybe
At eight months in, I’m still a long way out from being a Longhair, but I’ve just broken out of the awkward phase and can see a huge hairy future emerging on my horizon.
So, it’s early October and I think the hardest part is behind me. Or it could just be that I’m sat in the eye of the storm and there’s a whole world of awkward stage pain just waiting for me in a few weeks. I’ll know soon enough if that awkward stage is going to give me another ass kicking.
I’ll keep you up to date with my progress. And remember, if you’re stepping out on the long hair journey, make a pact with yourself. Dig deep and avoid the barber’s chair. Enlist the help of The Longhairs, el Rubio, el Moreno and all the posse. It will be hella worth it.