Instant Eyeball Shred
This morning I managed to trap a strand of my hair between my eyeball and my contact lens. Yup, as I was getting sorted for the day I popped in a lens and ‘boom’, instant eyeball shred.
That hurt. A lot. And it took seven minutes to pull the contact lens out, leaving me with a blood red eye and desperate determination to never do it again. In the 17 months since I decided to grow my hair, that’s the second time I’ve managed to do that. I guess it’s just one price you have to pay.
I’m Andy. I can just about say I kinda have long hair now. I recently struggled through early phase awkward stage hair and have finally punched through to the other side.
I’m still not sure exactly why I decided to grow my hair. I guess it was a combination of things. I’d just relocated with my girlfriend for a new life in a rural location, I’d taken up woodworking and was rediscovering old bands from way back. I’d just started bashing around on guitars again too, maybe those long-haired rockers were influencing my thinking. Part of it also, I think, was I wanted to look a bit different from everyone else.
So, I missed a haircut. And then another. And another. That’s when things started to go very wrong on top of my head, and I entered the early phase of awkward stage hair.
It’s a Long, Hairy Road
From that point and through my long hair journey I took note of my experiences, including the many problems I faced and the tips and tactics I tried—some successful, others not so much. Now, having finally made it out of the awkward phase warzone, I want to help other guys battle through.
Which brings us here, to Part I of this three-part series on awkward stage hair.
If you’re just setting out on your hair journey, this post will give you a few tips that will help you navigate the first 4-8 months, or what I affectionately call early phase awkward stage hair.
In part II I’ll share tactics and tools that will help you get through mid-phase awkward stage, or “the thick of it.” And finally in part III we’ll cover exit strategies for final phase awkward stage.
I’m not gonna lie. Making it through the awkward stage, and particularly the early phases, is a test. It’s not gonna be easy—and fortunately I got a lot of inspiration and staying power from The Longhairs—but these tips and lessons learned helped me power through, and they’ll help you make it too.
Making it through the awkward stage is a test.
Pompadour or Full-On Awkward?
First things first. Once you begin growing your hair, it will look crappy. For months. I read a lot about keeping the back and sides very short and growing the top in a pompadour style until you get to a point where you can start growing the rest in stealth mode, underneath the extended pompadour.
Do. Not. Cave.
My hair was very short when I started, so I figured the pompadour route would mean I’d be growing the top for at least 18 months before I could start on the sides. That just wasn’t an option for me, as I wanted to jump right in and build the foundations for full-on, all-round long hair right from the start. The pompadour would mean I’d only just now be starting to grow out the back and sides. Plus, I kinda wanted to suffer a bit for my art. I wanted to experience the true journey.
Holding Out When It Gets Tough
The best piece of advice that I can give anyone who’s struggling with the awkward stage is: Do. Not. Cave.
It’s easy to say, so that doesn’t help you at all on its own. However, I figured out a way to get through it and not give in. Sure, there were a bunch of days when it looked like a buffalo had taken a crap on my head. You will have those days, too.
This is what you need to do when you’re about to throw in the towel and head over to the barber’s chair.
Every time I felt like I was going to crack, I reminded myself of the long game, the goal of having kick ass long hair. Not a lot of guys grow their hair long and there’s a reason for it. It is hard to power through the awkward stage.
Every time I felt like I was going to crack, I reminded myself of the long game.
I decided that if I ever wanted a haircut, I’d remind myself of why I started doing this in the first place, and I made a pact to wait at least two weekends before 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. Use this ‘two weekend’ rule yourself. It worked for me.
Hair Hacks: No Wax
One thing that took me some time to realize is that hair products for very short hair do not work well as the growth begins to take hold. For me it meant ditching my gel and wax, replacing them with hair cream and conditioning oil. If you make the switch early enough it will save a lot of hassle.
We’ll dive a little deeper next time on those kind of products. As for the gels and wax, once you get to a certain length, you just won’t see good results. Those products tend to make your hair firm or even crispy, which is not a good look when you start getting some length. You end up trying to comb or style it full of goop, it’s hard to find any style that looks passable, and you end up just looking like you’re trying too hard.
Keep On Keepin On
There you have it guys, a few tips that helped me through the hard times, and I hope they help you make it to the promised land. I’ll be interested to hear any other tips, what works for you (or doesn’t work), and how you’re getting on as you walk the path to becoming a longhair.
Stay tuned for part II, where I’ll be talking about mid-phase awkward stage, when and how to get your hair cut during the awkward stage (if at all), the magic of hair straightening products and making the transition from the barber’s chair to a fully-fledged salon.
For now, just dig in, take the crap the awkward stage is going to throw at you and hold out for better days. Until then, ride it wild!
Andy lives in the UK, leaving the London city life in 2015 for the rolling landscape of North Yorkshire. He’s a fitness, science and property renovation writer, marketing strategist, greenhorn guitarist and singer, and he’s been growing his hair out since February 2016.
Follow Andy’s fitness blog at www.hackthegym.com or get yourself some science at www.sciencecavern.com. You can also follow Andy’s musical progress as Kurt Faraday on www.twitter.com/kurtfaraday or www.facebook.com/kurtfaraday.