If I’m being totally honest, over time facial hair became my mask. It was another way to physically hide behind something. But it started as one of the few forms of self-expression that I had total control over.
I’ve done it all. From the 90210 sideburns in HS (not pictured), to the mutton chops and go-tee in college (not pictured), to a 5 o’clock shadow beard as a young professional (not pictured), to full growth beards of the last 5 years.
The rest of my “uniform” – the hoodie, plaid button-down, glasses, and Kangol – developed over the last five years. But they also became part of the mask which is perfectly illustrated on the left.
I actually enjoy dressing up and looking good. But I don’t like a lot of things about myself physically so I created this character. This uniform protected my identity. And it gave me a way to present a persona.
Lately, I’ve been finding young Eric’s voice again. I’ve been exercising more. I’ve been more comfortable in my own body. I’ve been doing more self-care. I’ve been relearning that my youthful intuition is pretty good and I can begin to trust it again. What’s great about that is I have 40 yrs of experience to pull from.
But I digress…
I decided it was time to trim the beard (see the transformation in my story). Facial hair is still one form of self-expression I’ve always enjoyed and will continue to. But the purpose is different going forward. It’s not a mask. It’s me just being me (again).
Although I’m not quite ready to abandon my wardrobe yet, I do feel like change is in the air and spring is on the horizon. So maybe there will be less hoodies and jeans; and more button-downs and casual pants in my future.
Originally published on Instagram, February 24, 2020.