I was 8 years old, and it was the day parents were introduced at Sunday School.
As we went around the table and presented our moms and dads, the other kids were staring at my father in awe – gaping at his handlebar mustache.
My dad grew his mustache in 1976 to celebrate the American bicentennial and kept it because he was a fan of Rollie Fingers.
In the 1980s when I was growing up, there was nothing cool about a handlebar mustache. They were weird – and not cool weird, just odd.
It baffles me that today handlebar mustaches have become trendy. Even in the film Bridget Jones’s Baby, Bridget works with two pretentious hipsters with highly manicured handlebar mustaches.
Not only is it baffling, it’s irksome. For starters, the hipsters who wear them hadn’t even been born when my dad mail-ordered his first tube of mustache wax. And secondly, I’ve had a disdain for hipsters for some time.
It started in 2009 when I was adrift and unemployed living in the hipster capital of San Francisco. I spent my days idling at coffee shops among them – freelancers, artists, and entrepreneurs who wore vintage t-shirts, chained their wallet to their belt loop, and rode fixed-gear bicycles.
In not much time, I started to hate them. To me, they were always having all sorts of fun. They didn’t seem to have a schedule of any kind, coming and going when they pleased. They had money for overpriced green juice, and worst of all, they were always doing something wildly creative.
I mean, how dare they? Why weren’t they lost like me?
I’d recently left a 10-year career that was unfulfilling. I’d taken time off work to discover what I truly wanted to do in life, but I came up empty-handed. And somehow, not knowing what I wanted was worse than not doing it.
Out of fear of time passing me by, I immersed myself in the dreaded act of filling out online applications for jobs I didn’t want.
The hipsters were unapologetically doing what they loved to do, while I was lost in a world of drop-down menus, desirable qualifications, and proficiency descriptions. Their carefree attitude triggered the lack I felt inside and revealed the distance I was from my true nature.
I yearned for work that gave me freedom, creativity, abundance, and fun. And the hipsters around me seemed to be fully living those values. But instead of changing my circumstances, I whined.
Very often, instead of climbing out of the fear to face the elements, we impugn those around us who are taking the path few people are on.
The truth was that I didn’t even know who those people were. Were they really hipsters? It was my perception (rightly or wrongly) that those around me had the guts to pursue the things that meant the most to them, while I wallowed in fear of taking a risk.
I now understand that when a person triggers fear, anger, or irritation within me, they are shining a spotlight on a place of lack in my life.
Have you ever caught yourself saying: “So-and-so is always off playing broomball and doesn’t take adult responsibilities seriously,” or, “So-and-so wants to design t-shirts, but I don’t see how that’s going to pay the rent.”?
When this type of thought runs through your mind, then something inside you wants to come out. There is a song yearning to be sung, an image desperate to be painted, a cake dying to be decorated, and a layer of fear trapping the creativity inside of you.
And very often, instead of climbing out of the fear to face the elements, we impugn those around us who are taking the path few people are on.
The truth is that no amount of bitching about hipsters or handlebar mustaches will ease your pain. Your only cure is to start doing the things you love and feel called to do.
And if you’re not sure what you love and feel called to do, the only way to know is to start doing the thing that gets you most excited today. In time and with dedication, the clarity will come.
I’d love to travel back in time and pass this wisdom on to my 8-year-old self. I’d also tell her not to worry because in 30 odd years, dad’s mustache would be cool.