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Gray Hairs, Getting Older, And (Evolving) Perspectives

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I’m not a young man anymore. I’ve long since accepted that. It took me a while, but it was necessary. You can’t think, act, and conduct yourself as a young person forever. Neither the human body nor the flow of time works that way.

However, as we get older, our perspectives and outlook changes. I know mine has since I was a teenager. Given how miserable I was, I kind of had to. I expect it to continue changing as I get older. I don’t know what or how much that change will entail, but I know it’s coming.

Very recently, I already saw some of those signs. About a month ago, I finally had my annual physical, which is something I encourage everyone to do, regardless of their age. A part of getting older is understanding that youth won’t keep you healthy anymore. You have to be proactive. You have to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.

For the most part, I’ve put in the work. I try hard to say in shape as best I can, especially after I was so unhealthy in my youth. I won’t say I’m in perfect health. My annual physical did raise some issues, some of which have less to do with my exercise routine and more to do with my family history of illness. However, it’s what happened shortly afterwards that really stood out.

I noticed a notable increase in gray hairs.

I won’t say this freaked me out, but it was a bit jarring. I understand I’m not young anymore. Getting gray hair is an unavoidable part of getting older. I’ve seen it happen with my father, my uncles, and pretty much every older male friend. It was bound to happen to me at some point. I just didn’t expect to notice until after I turned 40.

Now, some of that might be a result of how stressful last year was. Other parts of it might have to do with a series of other big changes in my family that are too numerous to list. Whatever the cause, it’s getting more noticeable. You might not see it from afar, but trust me. I can see it every morning when I look in a bathroom mirror.

At some point, others will see it too. I won’t be able to hide my age. Nobody will ever mistake me for a guy in his 20s anymore. Honestly, I’m fine with that. The guy I was in my 20s was still a work-in-progress. That progress is far from complete, but I’m much further along now compared to where I was 10 years ago.

In that sense, gray hair almost seems like a marker of sorts. It’s a sign of how far I’ve gone in life and how strenuous it has been. I don’t doubt that I’ve had it easier than some and harder than others, but I’ve endured and learned every step of the way.

I haven’t gone as far as I could’ve. Hindsight has a tendency to reveal all the missed opportunities and avoidable mistakes we’ve made. In that respect, graying hair reminds us that we don’t have unlimited time. Moving forward, every second becomes a bit more precious. Past mistakes become bigger in some ways and smaller than others.

I’m at a point in my life where I still have the time and energy to succeed in new ways. I still want to become a successful writer. I still want to meet a beautiful woman who I can spend the rest of my life with. I still want to experience new things and cherish the activities I’ve come to love.

I just have to do those things with the knowledge that I’m not young anymore. Youthful energy will not carry me as it once did. Achieving what I hope to achieve will still take effort. However, what I lack in youthful energy, I make up for with experience, wisdom, and perspective.

The more I notice these gray hairs, the more incentive I have to keep enduring. That’s my perspective and I hope others in my position come to share it.

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Musings (And Struggles) On Men’s Hair Care Products

Take a deep breath because I’m a straight man who’s about to talk about his hair. Under most circumstances, that’s usually an invitation for all sorts of odd looks. However, with a global pandemic closing barbershops and hair salons nationwide, I think it’s safe to say the circumstances are unique. Even with some places opening up again, it’s not exactly as easy as walking in and asking for the next available stylist.

I’ll say what I’m sure everyone has at least thought to themselves at some point these past few months. I miss my barber. I miss getting a nice, competent haircut. I’ve spent the last couple months cutting my hair with a pair of cheap clippers. I’ve since come to appreciate the art and skill that goes into cutting hair. The next time I visit my barbershop, I intend to leave an extra-generous tip.

In the meantime, there’s one other issue that a lack of barbershops has revealed to me. It’s actually an issue that I’ve tried to avoid for years. It involves hair gel and the unique way my hair reacts to it. Specifically, it rarely reacts in a way that seems attractive or polished. I don’t know if that’s just a unique trait of my hair or if I’m using it wrong, but it doesn’t seem to work for me.

There was a brief time in my youth when I regularly used hair gel to slick my hair back. I thought it made me look good. For the most part, it was a way of compensating for having thick glasses and an acne problem. I figured that I couldn’t fix some of my facial flaws, but I could manage others. I don’t think my logic was wrong, but I’m fairly certain it backfired.

I’m also fairly certain I messed up my hair for years. I don’t think I succeeded in making myself more attractive, either. Every product I used had the same effect. It made my hair look like I’d styled it with glue. It became dry, stiff, and weird looking. You could tell there was something in my hair and it wasn’t natural. While most products had a pleasant smell, some were so bad that people made faces when they got too close.

Some of that might have been due to me using too much, but even when I used a little, it rarely made a difference. My hair still felt like I’d been on the receiving end of a bad frat prank. Eventually, I got so frustrated that I just stopped using all hair products that weren’t shampoo. Even when I grew my hair out in college, I didn’t do much to style it.

That was fine for college. That was even fine for post-college professional life. As long as I got a regular haircut, I could get away with just slicking my hair back with water and letting it style itself naturally. I got away with it for years, so much so that I barely thought about it.

Then, the pandemic hit and all the barbershops closed.

Suddenly, I have to give my hair more scrutiny than usual. Beyond just cutting it myself, I’ve also had to test out some new hair gels to make it look at least semi-kempt. Just like before, the results have been limited. Some of that is probably because I cut my hair so short and so unevenly that it’s hard to style. At the same time, I’m positive there’s room for improvement.

At the moment, I’m using this styling gel that a relative recommended for me. It’s working to the extent that I can make my hair look decent. When I’m using it, you can’t tell from a distance that I haven’t had a haircut in nearly five months. It still makes my hair feel dry and crusty, but it’s manageable. It’s probably the best I can do for now.

I’m not sure how much longer I’ll keep using this gel. Hopefully, once the barbershops open again, my hair can go back to being a secondary concern. While cutting my own hair and having to make it look decent has been an adventure, I still miss my barber. I miss not looking like a failed punk rocker in the morning.

I know it’s a minor concern in the context of a pandemic, but it’s one of those things you realized you took for granted. Rest assured, I won’t take my barber for granted anytime soon. In the meantime, if anyone has more advice on hair care for men without barbers, I’d love to hear it. Please share your tips and recommendations in the comments.

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Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights, men's issues

Cutting My Own Hair: My Experience (And Mishaps)

These are strange, difficult, and incredibly frustrating times. The COVID-19 pandemic has undermined many big things in our world, from major sporting events to movie releases. Between that and the egregious death toll, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the big effects of this pandemic. However, sometimes it’s the little things can be just as impactful.

Just recently, I experienced one of those little impacts. For the first time in my life, I gave myself a haircut. I want to say I’m proud of it. I wish I could say it turned out just fine. Unfortunately, I don’t have the energy to be that dishonest with the fine people who read this blog.

It’s true, though. I did cut my own hair this past weekend. I’d genuinely hoped I wouldn’t have to, but my timing with respect to haircuts couldn’t have been worse. I typically get my hair cut every two months. It’s nothing fancy. I just get an overall trim that insures my hair looks neat, classy, and well-kept. It’s rarely that much of a hassle.

Then, the mass shut-down came and every barber shop within a 100 mile radius was closed. At that point, I was well past due for a haircut and it showed. My hair started looking less and less kept. I learned back in college that if I don’t cut my hair regularly, I end up looking like an extra in a grunge band from 1993. If I let my beard grow, I’d look like a mountain man with dandruff.

I really resisted the inclination to cut my hair on my own. Finally, after waking up one morning and seeing my hair in the mirror, I decided it was time. I didn’t have much to go on, so I just bought a cheap pair of clippers from Walmart, put a paper towel over my sink, and went through with it.

I wish I could say it was simple. I’d hoped it would be simple. It wasn’t. In fact, it took longer to cut my own hair than it would have if I’d gone to a barber shop. That’s because cheap clippers and messy, oily hair don’t exactly complement one another. I had to keep buzzing over the same areas on my head multiple times because the clippers always seemed to miss something. It got so tedious my arms got tired.

Eventually, I cut my hair to a point where it’s at least somewhat presentable. I wish I could describe it. I’ll just say it’s somewhere between a crew cut and a buzz cut, but with some messy spots in the middle. Just getting it even was way harder than it should’ve been. It’s still not even, but at least it’s manageable.

I won’t say it looks ugly, but it’s not exactly flattering, nor is it professional. If I walked into a job interview with this haircut, I’d probably get docked a few points. It was enough to make me hope I don’t have to cut my hair again. It also gave me much more appreciation for the barbers and stylists of this world.

Seriously, we miss you. My hair misses you. I hope this quarantine ends soon so you can get back to making us all look good.

For those of you in my position who badly need a haircut, do yourself a favor. Either find someone else who can cut it or use videos like this one to make sure you still look presentable.

 

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