Three Things My Mustache Taught Me About Life
“Irish people don’t look good with facial hair”, my dad would say. “It looks like we just stumbled out of a pub.”
It was ironic that my dad would say that because he, himself, could grow a pretty good beard.
But that was a message I internalized in my youth. It wasn’t helped by the fact that my own facial hair was rather patchy and sparse. It also didn’t grow very fast, which meant I didn’t need to shave every day.
All of this added up to one incontrovertible truth: I was not destined to have facial hair of any kind. Thus, I have been clean-shaven since puberty.
When the pandemic rolled around, I, like many others, began working remotely. I hadn’t had a haircut in a few months leading up to that point so I was already a little shaggy. Since I wasn’t going into the office, I neglected my once-a-week shaving schedule. By mid-April of 2020 my beard was longer than it had ever been. Unfortunately, I felt like it made my face look round and a little chubby so I decided to shave.
My decision to leave the mustache untouched was fairly spontaneous. I was curious to see how it would look without the rest of the beard.
Honestly, it was still pretty wispy even after a month of growth. But I wasn’t seeing anyone outside my immediate family, so I decided to give it more time. Over about three months it evolved into what it is now. I am pretty pleased with how it looks and I can confidently say that, yes, I can actually grow some form of facial hair.
What’s the point of all this, you ask? Well, growing a mustache, surprisingly, has taught me a few things about life that I would like to share with you.
#1 – Don’t believe negative myths about yourself.
We all have “truths” about ourselves that we never question. These erroneous ideas are severely limiting. We just attach them to our minds and then they act as guardrails on our lives, often without us even knowing it.
“I’m bad at math.”
“I don’t like Brussels sprouts.”
“I’ve never been a ‘fitness’ person.”
“I wouldn’t feel comfortable vacationing in a non-English speaking country.”
“Hats look bad on me.”
“I’m a procrastinator.”
Do any of those sound familiar? We all have little things like those that we just accept as truth. Maybe we have some life experience that partially validates these beliefs, but maybe those life experiences were formed years ago and things are different now.
Like I said, I always thought that one of my truths was that I couldn’t grow good facial hair. And then I tried it, and what do you know? The simple act of growing a mustache opened up to me the idea that it was simply my thoughts that were holding me back.
I began to think about what other things were possible. Things that I previously thought were out of reach. Things I thought were reserved for other people.
Things like, oh I don’t know, launching a style website for dads.
The point is that you can radically alter your life if you simply refuse to give in to those myths. You can go for something and make your reality different from what it has been up to this point.
#2 – Just get through the awkward part.
Starting things is hard. It’s hard work to get something going. To get it off the ground. To put it in motion if it had been at rest.
Also, the beginnings of things are often awkward or uncomfortable.
Think about your first few weeks at a new job. Or the initial stages of a new workout plan. Or how about beginning a healthy habit like cutting back on drinking or reading a certain number of pages in a book every day?
With almost everything worthwhile, there is an awkward first stage. That’s because anything worthwhile usually pushes us out of our comfort zones, at least for a little while. That’s just growth. Once you push through the initial discomfort, you get to a place where the real rewards are. Don’t let the awkward stage discourage you from seeing things through.
Very rarely are we good at things or see results right away. You just have to keep plugging away.
That’s what happened with my mustache. I looked pretty haggard that first month. Then I shaved my beard off, leaving just my mustache… and I still looked pretty haggard. It took a solid three or four months before my mustache was full enough to not look a bit embarrassing.
Now, would I have attempted a mustache if I wasn’t in pandemic isolation? Probably not. I probably wouldn’t have wanted to endure that awkward stage in front of my friends and coworkers. Thankfully, after two years of not seeing my coworkers at all, I was able to return to the office with a fully formed mustache and not look like Adam Morrison.
But there is also something to be said about seeing an opportunity and seizing it. I knew this was my best chance to attempt facial hair so I went with it.
#3 – Adapting doesn’t mean you chose the wrong path.
Sometimes, after we have chosen a particular path to travel, we find it necessary to tweak certain things. Maybe we are presented with new information. Or maybe our circumstances change. Adaptation occurs. Perhaps our new plan going forward doesn’t look exactly the way it did when we first started out.
There is nothing wrong with that. Life doesn’t go exactly the way you planned.
The fact that you needed to tweak your plan doesn’t mean that the path you chose was wrong to begin with.
When I felt that my mustache was no longer in its awkward stage, I still wasn’t entirely sure what style of mustache I wanted or would look best on me. So, I experimented. I first tried combing the hair outward toward my cheeks, but I didn’t like how it wouldn’t stay in place. I then tried a longer handlebar style where the ends dropped downward toward my chin, but I didn’t like how it felt on the corners of my mouth. Finally, once the hair was long enough, I settled on the style I have to this day, which is just a simple push-broom look.
My point is that when I realized I didn’t like one particular style, I didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water, abandon the whole project, and shave my mustache off completely. I tweaked the plan. I tried some different things and eventually one of them worked. If I didn’t like ANY of the styles, then maybe I would have given up. There would have been nothing wrong with that. That would have meant I adapted to new information and made a decision that made sense.
But I wasn’t going to make that decision until I tried many different things.
So, don’t fret if you need to alter your plans along the way. Circumstances are always changing and just because you had to change course slightly doesn’t mean you’re heading in the wrong direction.
My wife sometimes asks me if I like my mustache. I always shrug and say “It’s ok”. Honestly, I have no idea if I am going to keep it for the long haul or just consider it a fun experiment and shave it off.
It’s been almost three years now. My youngest son has literally never seen me without a mustache. I have had a mustache his entire life. He refers to pictures of me before spring 2020 as “Daddy No Mustache”.
It’s kind of odd to think that something I never thought I’d have (facial hair) has come to be a pretty defining aspect of my appearance.
Whether I keep it or not, I will always value the lessons my mustache has taught me!