If you asked 100 men what constitutes a “real man” to them, they would likely come up with 100 different answers. Everyone seems to have their own definition, and it seems to create a healthy debate.
I did a video about what being a “real man” means. Someone put a rather opinionated comment on the video, and I replied. He said only “real men” can say what it means to be a real man and that basically, since I was a woman, my opinion didn’t matter.
After going back and forth with our comments, I realized something. The issue for me really isn’t about someone’s definition of what a “real man” is no matter how much I may not agree with it. My real issue is that there is even a term called “real man,” as though a man is anything but that. Or that if you aren’t, you’re a fake man or not good enough as a man.
“Real man” often times is used in hurtful, demeaning or belittling ways to stab at someone’s ego or pride. That if you, as a man, don’t fit into this definition of what it takes to be a “real man” then you really aren’t a good enough man. You just aren’t good enough.
So what ends up happening is men try to live up to someone else’s expectations of what it is to be a “real man.” He does what others want him to do. He goes out with someone who others will approve of and life. He’ll get the job that has the most potential for income, growth, and success, because that is what others want for him or because that’s what he thinks is expected of him. Meanwhile, he’ll never follow what he wants to do or who he wants to be. He’ll be living a lie not realizing the day will come when he will feel unfulfilled, miserable, or even depressed. And he won’t have a clue as to why he feels that way.
After all, he’s done exactly what he was supposed to do. He graduated from college like he was supposed to with the major other people wanted for him. He got a job in the field he was supposed to. He married early like he was supposed. He had kids like he’s supposed to. He climbed the corporate ladder and makes great money like he was supposed to.
But no one bothered to tell him that one day you’ll realize those things don’t fill you up. Yes, he loves his kids. Yes, he loves his income. But he starts asking himself, “Is there something more? There has to be something more.” But he doesn’t know what that is or what it looks like.
He’s spent so many years living up to someone else’s definition of a “real man” is, he forgot to ask himself what he wants or who he is. He comes to a fork in the road and isn’t sure what to do. On the one hand, he doesn’t want to give up his income. On the other hand he’s miserable at work. He doesn’t spend enough time with his kids and his marriage is on the brink.
He thinks he’s created a good life, but in his core, he’s not happy. He wants more. He needs more. Living up to someone else’s definition of a “real man” won’t bring you happiness, fulfillment, or joy. In fact, it’ll break you down. I’ve seen it happen time and time again, which is why the term “real man” is such a hot button for me.
There is no such thing as a “real man.” Plain and simple. There is no such thing. You are being real (being real is different than “real man.”) when you are authentic, truthful, and vulnerable. If you hold true to who you are (if you know who you are—most men don’t,) you’ll find your way to exactly where you’re supposed to be.
If you aren’t sure who you are, that’s a whole other post.