Don’t be afraid to befriend someone who is different but positive.
One the ferry to Norway, there was a group of men with tattoos, biker clothing and long hair. They all had beards, as well, but most of them didn’t have enough growth to sport much — except the coolest looking of them all, the leader, the one everyone else looked up to. He had beard down to his belly button.
Every time I passed these guys, a couple of them looked uneasily at me, as if I were a threat. (Or perhaps they were just curious.) Every time I could sense their attention shift almost imperceptibly, a glance my way, slight shuffling of their feet, something, and then nothing, back to normality.
I understood later that it must have been because of my beard. The group tried to mimic their leader, and he had a long beard — but unfortunately, they weren’t old enough, or just didn’t have enough hair on their chin, and the result was a bit meh.
I, on the other hand, have enough beard. It’s not very long yet, but it’s growing like bamboo, thick and fast, and there were probably a few of those guys who would have wanted to have my growth (but perhaps not my beard, it wouldn’t have suited them (as it seldom suits me)).
Today there was a guy with a massive beard at the hill. Really massive, as in “dude, where is your face”- massive: he wore a helmet and goggles and when he didn’t, he wore a cap and sun glasses, and his mouth probably hadn’t been seen by a living soul for at least a year.
I couldn’t help but noticing him, ie his beard. I suppose 90% of those there will understand who I’m talking about if they read this; almost everyone will have noticed his beard.
The strange part is that he noticed me, too. I was the only one besides him with more than a couple of weeks of beard growth, perhaps he saw me as a threat or as a fellow beard, I don’t know — but I can’t find not other reason than my beard.
If I ever grow a huge beard (which my wife assures me I won’t), I visualise myself going up to strangers and compliment them on their beards. A huge beard meets a huge beard, and they have instantly something in common in a good way. (Not in a bad way, aka “she has the same dress as me”-way.) If I had a huge beard by now, I like to believe that I would have walked up to these bikers, or this bloke without a face today, given them a high-five, and exchanged pleasantries about how hugely rewarding the beard growing process is. Or something.
I mean, we would have been different together: the only thing more stressful than being different together, is being different alone (especially when there are others who are different in the same way, but they are together without you).
But my beard is not big enough, and not important enough, I forget I am bearded all the time, and it’s not an integrated part of who I am yet. So I didn’t befriend these different men, I just passed them on the hallway on board the ferry, or sat in the sun and watched a beard come down the slope attached to his skis. That’s all I did.
On the one hand, those who are different are usually more interesting and often easier to make friends with. On the other hand, they will sometimes threaten you own world-view just by being different. Unless, of course, you become different just like they are different.
Ops, I think I just talked myself into bearding on. Dammit. I must find a way of talking myself out of it some day soon, then.