Here are some things Jay Snook fears as a man. Do you fear them, too?
Fear can be a dangerous thing for a man. It can shake a man to his core and prevent him from being a great man for himself, his family, and his community. Fear can prevent a man from getting a good job, an education, and even from finding a partner to go out with. But fear is also normal. All men experience fear from time to time. So fear is both inevitable and universal, but what you do with that fear specifically, in each instance, determines whether it controls you or master it. Here are some fears that I, personally, think all men have.
First, the big one for my age group (20s and 30s) is the fear of never attaining financial success. Many men in this age group worry they will never have enough money to support a family, much less retire. We go out, go to school to get degrees, get jobs, even change them for better jobs, but in today’s economy, we are not likely to get high paying jobs right away. We may have to work minimum wage jobs, and engage in the struggle that entails. This can make it tough to rent or buy our own homes, afford a decent car, and purchase other nice things we want to have.
I am in this place right now. I work three jobs, but I am not nearly as well off as I would like to be. All I can do right now is apply for higher paying jobs and hope for the best. My life is not fun, but this is my reality for me right now. I don’t let it bring me down, but honestly, there are times I wonder when things will get better, or if they ever will. I am confident most men have been in this place before and can relate to this uncomfortable situation.
Another big fear for many men is change. We tend to focus on security and therefore to be change-resistant. This resistance applies not only to work, but also to other areas of our lives. Whether it is eating healthier, going to the gym, trying new foods, seeing a different type of film, or stopping habits we know are bad for us, change is difficult. We are creatures of habit, and when we find something we like, we stick with it.
I have many things I don’t want to change in my life, such as going to the gym only on certain days of the week or drinking one soda a day, and I have trouble maintaining a healthy diet. I struggled to cut back on the soda, and losing weight did finally happen for me, but it took years for me to finally try something different, and it happened only after I came to the conclusion that my way was not working.
Life can be stressful, and many men turn to smoking and drinking to help them relax. They like the unhealthy foods they eat, and for many men these are a part of their daily routines. Asking them to give something up does not make for a happy question, and they are not going to ask themselves—unless there is a crisis. But the truth is, change will happen whether we like it or not, because change is a part of life. Men are frequently stubborn, but the wiser ones have learned to accept change, no matter how painful it may be.
There is another common fear for a man which is fear of fatherhood. Many men want to be dads these days, but the thought of having a child, and more specifically being responsible for a child, can also be scary. Many men worry whether they will they be a good dad, if they’re ready to handle the responsibility, if they will be able afford the expenses, or if they will repeat unhealthy patterns from their own childhoods. I know many men who are fathers now, and I have seen these fears show up.
Fear of fatherhood is more likely to happen when the pregnancy was not planned, but when the pregnancy is intentional, fear still increases as the moment of truth nears. Men can get freaked out about fatherhood, but they may be reluctant to admit it or reach out for support. I am sure many men have dealt with this fear, and those who are willing to share can provide suggestions. Asking for help if you need it is the best thing to do, and there are many good resources, such as books and websites, for new fathers.
Fear is a feeling all men deal with from time to time. No matter how strong we are, something will happen that will frighten us. That something is often sudden and unexpected. How a man reacts to fear and handles it determines how successful he is in navigating the challenge. Each man will deal with fear differently, and there is no one right way. My advice to all men is, don’t avoid or deny fear. Do your best to face it and handle it, if not for yourself then for your families and those around you. Modeling how to handle fear is critical to raising healthy children who will in turn not shrink from it. Face the fears and work through them. The people you love will thank you for it.