I spent the day (yesterday) thinking about this and how I went through the very same type of thing a few years ago. I remember it as being a hard time, and not really knowing what to do. I had doubts of being a Sikh and why I was doing it all. I think the longer I was away from other Sikhs...and more in the main stream I became more and more detached from living as a Sikh and really understand WHY I was doing it. The longer I was away...the fainter my inner voice could be heard screaming out for rescue. When you are young and integrating into "American" culture there is great pressure to fit in, look cool, want to party... hook up with "chicks", and make new friends. I think the question that Gurpreet and others who are in these situations should really look at and think about is WHY exactly do they want to shave or cut their hair. I can understand someone feeling like Sikhism isn't right for them...and take up some other spiritual path...or practice, but from what I have seen in the past...most people don't stick with anything and seem to just throw it all away, in order to be a "regular joe". To me that seems like a waste. If motives of shaving are to "fit in"..."look good"..."hook up with girls"...and other things like that...then I would hope that the person would seriously think about it.
I went through these type of experiences twice (luckily I didn't strike out). First I was in LA....after India.... didn't know many people or have many friends my age. I was lonely and just wanted to fit in. I started going out and partying every week at clubs, and basically looked for cool people to meet. I did meet many people...but not many people of depth (in relation to being spiritual)....and no wonder I didn't.... I was looking in totally wrong places (but I rationed that if I was there...then someone else like me...might be there too). I eventually met someone...who I dated for a while. She kept pressuring me about my little beard...and how It looked so much better to be able to see the "angles" of my chin...and other remarks like that. I was torn and didn't know what to do. I ended up shaving my beard (giving in to the pressure) .... but then shortly after in my flip-flop with "to be or not to be" Sikh and me being so different then this "regular girl" we broke up and I went to India (amaritsar) with all the other kids to go to "college".
I was reinspired and got back into why I was a Sikh...and thought that I had learnt my lesson. After I returned from India and was living in New York and in New Mexico the same types of things happened. Again the beard disappeared. What I learnt from the whole thing is...that it is not so much how you were raised or what your parents taught you.... but what you actually experienced as being a Sikh...and what types of people you had around you. When I was in environments of strong Sikhs and devotion....I caught the "energy" and understood why I was a Sikh. But when I was out on my own...away from the "company of the holy" I caught that energy of the regular "joe".
Some people ask me how I got out of my situations and became a more devoted Sikh. I tell them it was through the support of my friends and family who pressured me to really think about what I was doing and not take it lightly. It is not really a matter...of cutting your hair or being a Sikh.... but about giving up all the beliefs that you have been raised with. I would hope that no one would take it lightly. All I can say is to THINK about what you are doing and talk to others who have gone through similar situations. We love to rationalize things..and make everything we do "ok".
The past few months I have been talking with other people and planning out a support forum (web page) for Sikh youths who are going through these issues. I would really like to know if any of you are interested in sharing your experiences and would like to participate in the forum when it is setup.
Gurpreet, you're a cool man.... with or without the beard...but PLEASE think about what you are giving it up and WHY you are wanting to shave and leave the Sikh faith behind. For too many years I changed myself in trying to fit in and be like other people.... but let me tell you this.... If you can't be yourself and someone does not accept you how you are then...you are better off without them. When I met Arjan (my now wife) it was such an exhilarating feeling having someone who loved me and accepted me how I was. I didn't have to be someone else or change anything. That is a good feeling. I hope you will be patient and take the time to think about your actions and know that things take time.