Things I Learned From Having Long Hair

FYI, I cut my hair short again, after allowing it to grow to shoulder-length. It's not that I want to provide the universe with a permanent record of how my hair grows, but it was an interesting undertaking, and I learned some things from doing it. Here are a few of the most significant things I learned:

1) People treat you differently when you have long hair. I blogged about this a couple of times, but it always surprised me. I enjoyed the openness with which people treated me when I had long hair, and I'll miss it. I also miss being less "visible." When you're a man with long hair, you stand out in a crowd. When you have short hair, you need to devise other ways of standing out in a crowd.

2) Long hair is a fashion accessory unto itself. Because long hair stands out in a crowd, it feels a little different to wear, say, t-shirts-and-jeans when you have long hair versus when you have short hair. It's automatically less "plain," and so dressing to impress takes quite a bit less effort. There's a credibility trade-off in professional situations, of course, but it's not insurmountable. As a man with short hair, however, one must either make more of an effort to accessorize and appear more fashionable, or one must accept that one looks plain.

3) Messy hair is not that big a deal. With long hair, I discovered through necessity that people don't much care if your hair isn't perfect. If you tie it back and it's not 100%, you still look roughly the same as if you tied it back and it was perfect. If you keep it down and it doesn't fall quite the way you'd prefer, you still look more or less the same as if you're having a great hair day. People spend more time than they need to on styling their long hair. Just let it be, don't waste your time blow-drying it except for very special occasions. Use "product" to keep your hair healthy, but don't over-invest in styling.This is one lesson I've applied to my now-short hair. Nobody's going to care if it's not perfect. Nobody cared if it wasn't perfect when I was growing it out, but it wasn't quite long yet. Over-investing in hair styling is a waste of time and money. Get a good haircut and then let nature pretty much take its course.

4) It takes about two years to get long hair. Just keep that in mind. Your hair will go through many stylistic "phases" as it grows, but it will take about two years to go from buzz cut to shoulder-length hair. One year of growth is enough for society to start seeing it as "subjectively long-ish."

5) Long hair is fun, and worth growing. I enjoyed growing my hair out, and I enjoyed having long hair. So much so, that I will likely do this again some time. For the time being, I just needed a change. I spent so much time following athletes that I needed a more athletic hairstyle. Long hair is more about having a flair for the artistic rather than the athletic. Should I lean toward my artistic side again in the future, I'll certainly consider long hair again.

6) Shaving with long hair is hard. It's constantly falling forward toward your face. One option is to tie it back long enough to shave, but then you still have to shave around your neckline, and it gets in the way there, too. By contrast, shaving with short hair is not a problem in the least.

7) Older people like long hair better than younger people. People with any kind of connection to the 60s or 70s will really love your long hair. Younger generations will generally not. It is what it is.

8) Long hair makes you look younger. It's not the only way to look younger, but it is one way, and a fairly reliable one at that. This plays into Point #2 a bit, though. A lot of what's going on here is that long hair is a fashion accessory. If you make a point of having other accessories, you won't look old with long hair.

9) There are a lot of short hairstyles that convey similar vibes. As I discovered, long hair isn't the only hair style that can make you look younger, more artistic, more fashionable, and so on. There are many shorter hairstyles that fit the bill equally well, and this was one reason I decided to cut my hair short again.

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