To preface this adventure, I will admit that after I graduated high school in 2012 I attempted to grow out a greasy head of hair that failed miserably. The first foray isn't always the last foray, no matter what the nay-sayers attempt to convince you. I grew weak and mangled the mop to get a date with the 'dream' girl from high school. Never change your hair for love people, it's not worth it. Instead change your love to suit your hair…. Which doesn’t make sense if you think about it.
It all began with my last 'real, mature, business oriented' haircut on December 23rd, 2015. After walking out of the best barbershop (It’s all subjective people calm down) in Kansas City, I looked in the mirror and took a selfie because damn if I didn’t look good. Little did I know that was the last time for nearly two years that I would think my hair looked commendable. It is worth noting that on the very same day I cut my hair, my car was packed for my annual Christmas jaunt home. After walking in the door of Knickerbockers, one of its final days as a bar, I was able to meet with the first ghost of manes past, my cousin Thomas, who was rocking the scruffy nerf herder look. I had known that he was growing it out, however I didn’t really think anything of it during the months leading up to the show. As the night wore on and drinks were had, my mind kept sneaking thoughts of Fabio like hair cascading down my scalp. I don't know what drew that to my mind, but I couldn’t push out the image from the dark corners of my brain.
As the holidays flew by Thomas and I kept bumping into each other, as family tends to do, my hair felt woefully inadequate. The miniscule amount on the top of my head was something akin to nakedness and I wanted to be clothed. Finally a determined decision was reached on New Year’s Eve, I would chase the flow, no matter where it could go. The major reasoning behind growing was that many never reach Resolutions, blaming laziness or difficulty, but growing hair, seemed perfect. With fostering the flow I would be saving time, money (nearly $270 the first year alone) and I could be as lazy as I wanted because psh, who cares! How ignorant was I for thinking this undertaking would be as simple as not doing something.
Within that first month I was jonesing for a trim to make me feel clean again. I was not use to looking like a mountain man yet, I needed my fix of fashion forward hair. There were many days of near failure, but I held strong, setting events on my phone every few days that said things like, 'Don't give up!' which helped tide me over, made me strong. Then I started dating someone who gave me encouragement to keep the scraggle. Granted this was three months in and I hadn't begun to learn of the most feared 'Awkward Phase', but I was pleased for a time. This girl coupled with Thomas became my support group. He and I would push each other into not cutting it, forging a kind of soul-bond for sick salad heads. Sending photos every day to mark the progress of evolution, random texts, it had all the hallmarks of a stable flow friendship.
Sadly, that wasn't enough for my spirit to keep going on those long cold early spring nights, so I looked elsewhere. Reddit had a nice forum for long-haired men, linking to hair care ideas, how to hide the flow and everything you could think of in-between. But the community there felt.... Strange and foreign, akin to looking at a zoo animal from the outside, so Google became my friend.
After weeks of Google-fu I found what I consider home now. There was a clean, yet warm place called 'Thelonghairs.us', a place of refuge for us freedom fighting, fierce flow wearing kinsmen. There were many nights I would lie awake trying to find hope in the back-logged articles from brothers past. There were so many well-formed thoughts one wouldn’t know where to begin. From experiencing the awkward phase (which was full in effect now making me look like a Bieber wannabe) to finding tips on proper grooming (still trying to figure out how that works) they were a community that accepted me, for me. This site brought the plight of long haired men into focus for the first time. Previously I hadn't considered that men with long-hair were often times considered to be an inferior choice for jobs because it wasn't professional. I hadn't been approached from the back and called ma'am yet (this has happened and boy was it funny). This was the second ghost of growing flows, the constant friend who brings different ideas to your attention.
When six months hit, my family members and friends finally started in, trying to put out my passion with a deluge of self-doubt. My ever business minded mom (bless her human resources trained heart) said the forever echoed words 'So, when are you finally going to get a haircut? You will need one for job interviews.’ This was the second time that this issue had been brought to my attention. Why did it matter if had long hair for a job, women can do it, so why not a guy? The question that had the largest effect on me however was one that even after reading I didn’t believe was a thing. ‘So when will you get a man's haircut?'
The whole concept behind this question left me completely floored, like a gas pedal in a street race. When did I have to start marking off boxes to be a man? Did a person have to conform to societal norms to finally be considered a man? Why couldn't I have long hair and be successful? Being bothered was now very much on the menu of my mind, and I didn't have the answers yet. Formulating rash, spur of the moment responses was all I could manage and they all would have fallen flat in the face of discussions because I was ignorant of what lie ahead. All I knew was that if having short hair meant growing up, I wanted no part in that.
Then I grew up. Slowly but surely I was approaching my first goal, the first year mark. Things were changing, as they have a habit of doing for the living. The only constant things in my life were the regularly scheduled bad hair days that would happen more often than not (hats off to you ladies and gentlemen who always have it in order). New relationships were sprouting, jobs were taking their toll, and winter was oddly warm and sweaty. The largest betrayal happened however from my own flow-bro, who chopped his locks for professional interviews. I felt alone, devastated, and ashamed that I didn't even know how to properly comb my hair (wide toothed comb first to take away the knots, starting at the ends working your way to the roots, followed by a boars bristle brush scalp down to distribute the oil). What was there left for me to do? Could I continue on my own journey, full of knots and twists? But from those moments of anguish the answers to the questions posed to me months before finally solidified.
There was to be a purpose for my hair, something that others had done before me and I wanted to replicate. The thought of transforming into a skilled flow master (having a career YOU as an individual are proud of) had moved to the forefront of my mind. Becoming a professional with flow was going to be my next goal, which, while noble would be hard to do with my spelling ability resembling a three year old child's (as always the article is dedicated to spellcheck). Realizing after a long and enduring (a skill taught by the flow) thought process I would be unable to reach these goals as a self-employed man, I began my search. This introspective was paired with finding the third and final flow-migo, my amazing girlfriend, Cydney.
Some of her first words to me were 'Wow, I expected you to be a bit taller' (she claims she only thought this in her head.... But I know the truth) followed by 'You are really cute'. This cleared the murk of self-doubt from my eyes and started to make me feel whole, like all this time growing was worth something. The constant support that she has given me in every aspect of life from maintaining my hair (she encouraged a no-poo style… Not for me but hey) to pursuing passions in life have be the most wonderful thing to ever happen. She has also strongly suggested that she would not have noticed me if it was not for the miracle mane, which again is a confidence booster. To be sure my current position in a growing company would not be possible without the ever nagging voice in the back of my mind asking if the work I am doing is equal to happiness, growth, or positivity. I pursue the scary and unknown because
Up until this point in my life, I let others define my identity. Who was I? Where was I going? What was my end goal? All of them were answered by reflecting what I thought those surrounding me wanted to see, those answers just weren't me however. As I sit here typing this article (which is considerably longer than some and possibly shorter than others) the nature of my nurture is fostering better answers, closer to the final ones that I may never actually get to know. Where am I going? As far as I can, with the long hair I have put the time and effort into gardening. What is my end goal? To challenge myself so I can feel accomplishment in everything that I do. Happiness may be a by-product of what is going on, but it is not the end goal. Who am I? Currently Brian is a long maned man mounting a monstrous rebellion against modern modes of manliness.
These two tumultuous years have taught me more than I would have thought possible. I have gained the utmost respect for the hair growing, styling and maintaining process (seriously girls, how you wait for it to dry, I never know...... I am sorry for poking fun at that) and was able to find someone whom I can love and cherish until this body I have is incapable of pull that off anymore. There are an incredible amount of lessons still for me to learn and I hope that I will be able to rise to the challenge and meet them. The pursuit of being a long-haired professional has yet to be completed, so that journey is still not over for me. This is not meant to be a pro's list for hair or a way to wave your locks away. All I want to get across is that over two years, if you dedicate yourself to a single objective and pursue it doggedly no matter the opposition surrounding you and the negativity draining in, you will be proud of the person you become. From high-ball hairstyles to baby smooth shaved scalps I hope that reaching dreams is something you will put time and effort into. And Cydney, the next 3 inches are dedicated to you.