Looking back now, I wish I had a “Guide to Manhood” that told me how hard being a man was…
You will fight against stereotypes for your entire life:
From the minute you first stand up for something on your own, you will be battling against other people’s harsh judgment for the rest of your life. Let’s face it, men have a long history of having the capacity to be awful. Stereotypes about men have been made on our history, and believe it, they will follow you everywhere. Everywhere I go, every friendship, relationship, public setting, forum, group – everywhere, these stereotypes and many others follow me. If I had known about this when I was 10, I wouldn’t have let these things get to me for nearly 15 years. I would have expected to own the failings of other men.
Facial hair is a bastard:
I don’t care if you have the beard to end all beards, or if you can barely grow a Michael Cera moustache —facial hair is a pain in the ass. Having to ritualistically shave the hair from your face every morning is a miserable practice. Not being able to kiss your partner without giving them sandpaper rash from your prickly beard, poking yourself with the damn thing, getting your mustache in your mouth, getting food stuck in your beard, or…. Beards are a bastard. I wish someone would have told me that for all that rugged beauty that comes with a well groomed beard, comes a lot of inconvenience. Not to mention, there’s no guarantee that you will be able to grow a ruggedly handsome beard. It’s just not there for us all…
The one’s you fall in love with are going to expect the world from you, and typically offer you none of it:
Ok. Touchy subject, I know, but read me out. It’s true that the world is changing and has changed drastically in the past two decades, yet I believe there are still certain expectations of men that are unrealistic/ unfair. When it comes to me being in a relationship, other men set the bar for everything that I am supposed to be, or that is expected of me. Whether it be past partners or friends or even family members: I am expected to not only be comprised of all of the good qualities that my partner has come to love in them, but also to make up for said parties mistakes. I am responsible for curing them of the trauma of their past. It’s inherent. A huge factor in relationships, one that we don’t often acknowledge, is that we tend to put the weight of reconciliation for past trauma on whomever it is that with are currently with. I wish I was told when I was younger that I would have to shoulder what will always feel like the weight of the world, if I am to love and be loved.
If and when you need a vacation, take it:
We are creatures of burden. Men have and will always shoulder more than they should. Whether it’s because we’re too stubborn to let others help, or we just like sacrificing ourselves to help others, we tend to carry a lot. From what I have learned, my body knows when it needs a break. It screams from the inside “I NEED A VACATION!” I have learned, that even if I only need an hour off, I need to take it. I can continue indefinitely, shouldering burdens and battling armies of ever increasing size, as long as I let myself rest and give my body and mind the vacation they yearn for.
You’re going to be expected to stand on your own, through everything, and shed no tears:
This is changing, and quickly— but to some extent, men are still expected to be stoic and emotionally stable. We are supposed to be rocks with which others can anchor to in a storm. We are supposed to be unshakeable and courageous. It is we who give our lives for others. I wish I knew when I was younger that my life was going to be one continuous effort to do my best to impress others, all the while dealing with the emotional blow-back when I inevitably fall short and disappoint the people I love.
Nothing will ever be enough:
God, how I wish I knew this lesson years and years ago. It would have saved me a lot of time searching. I think this pertains more to me personally as a man, than to all men. I am struggling with finding happiness in the things I do have and the life I live, rather than continuously hoping for things. Nothing will ever be enough means no matter how much I do; how much I have, I still won’t be happy with myself or where I am in my life. I don’t know what the missing factor is, if there is one. I’m the kind of person who believes everything is just one big puzzle comprised of little puzzles. I have seen other men experiencing this in their lives, so I know I am not alone. I wish I knew that it was going to be this way my whole life, I would have accepted it as part of life, and not let it get me down as much as it has.
Being good is easy, being a good man is hard:
What makes a good man? Is it specifically the way we act towards women? Towards the ones we love? Towards our families? At work? Is it just the way we act towards others in general, or the way we are when we are alone? What makes us good?
What makes this question so difficult is the ambiguous nature of all good vs evil questions. We all strive to uphold our individual moral and ethical codes, (that individuality is our freedom) yet individual thought leaves room for error. This is where different viewpoints and the notion of good versus evil come into play. So then, should we have a unified code of moral and ethical values? The legal systems that we have established are about as unified as we are going to get. We should not be controlling people, just teaching them better; how to see what qualities make a good person.
Being a good man, to me, is being selfless while making sure you take care of yourself. It’s courage against the things you fear most, strength against the things you can barely manage on your own. It’s not being afraid to ask for help and to share in the glory. It’s undying friendship, and working towards the betterment of all. It is preserving your home, helping your neighbor, and ensuring safety for everyone. A good man, is responsible for a great deal more things than he realizes. It is up to all good men to keep the world a good place. We are its heroes, for no matter how difficult the world gets— no matter how difficult it may seem to be a man at times, when it gets dark there is no one else coming to save us. We are it.
Photo: Flickr/ Giuseppe Milo