Growing up, the concept of “being a man” seemed clearer than it should have been. I grew up surrounded by uncles and a dad who were into lifting heavy weights and rock ‘n’ roll music. Their actions were always clearly conveyed a sense of bravado and fearlessness.
From an early age, I set the standards for my apparent masculinity quite high. In my small mind, there were two simple rules that all men lived by:
(1) Respect the women in your life and (2) show no fear or pain.
They were obvious additions to these with many subcategories, but these two were the bedrock of all I knew.
One incident that still resonates with me was during a friendly game of cricket between my dad and me. My dad was struck on his bare knee by a leather cricket ball. To those unaware, the ball weighs in at around 5.5 ounces and because the ball travels at a tremendous speed, the game requires a lot of protective equipment to keep players from getting injured. As I went over to check on whether my dad wanted to sit down because of the impact, he calmly walked over, picked up the ball, and handed it back to me. When I asked if it hurt, his reply was a sober, “Yes, but it won’t always hurt; it’ll stop soon.”
With a big smile, I walked back knowing that the benchmark had been set. For the next few years whenever a situation arose, I tried my hardest not to show pain. Whether that was an emotional or physical pain, my mind was set on the fact that there was no greater response a man could offer than to hide it all away.
This approach is quite common among men who like to portray themselves as Alpha Males, the dominant ones that feel no fear or pain. Crying is seen as a major show of emotion and weakness and is thus strictly not allowed. Real men don’t cry, how often have you heard that line?
A few years later, another incident once again changed my opinion of the subject and gave me a much better understanding of what it really means to be a man. My grandma, my Dad’s mother, was sick, and as we visited one doctor after the other, it seemed like there was no clear solution in sight. One day as we sat down to pray and I saw something I never expected: My dad broke down and wept. It wasn’t just a few tears, either. This sight almost instantly changed the way I thought about a lot of things.
Suddenly it was ok for men to show their feelings?
Something that had seemed almost unnatural earlier was now acceptable. In my mind, my Dad was still the toughest, strongest, and most dependable man I could count on. The relationship between crying and being a man completely changed. Suddenly strength didn’t mean that you tried to show people you felt nothing. Being a man meant having strong emotions and not being afraid to express them.
As men, we often try to curb our emotions and try to act in a way that makes us more socially acceptable. We look up to the typical tough guy and try to emulate them in any way we can. What we never see are the struggles that even the toughest of men experience.
Being a man is not about having no weakness or showing no fear, it’s about standing for what is right despite everything. I owe a lot to my Dad and the example that he set. Observing this one incident had perhaps the biggest impact on me as a person. It made me the man I am today.
This post is republished on Medium.
We are proud of our SOCIAL INTEREST GROUPS—WEEKLY PHONE CALLS to help discuss and help solve some of the most difficult challenges the world has today. Calls are for Members Only (although you can join the first call for free). Not yet a member of The Good Men Project? Join now!
What Now? Participate. Take Action. Join The Good Men Project Community.
The $50 Platinum Level is an ALL-ACCESS PASS—join as many groups and classes as you want for the entire year. The $25 Gold Level gives you access to any ONE Social Interest Group and ONE Class–and other benefits listed below the form. Or…for $12, join as a Bronze Member and support our mission. All members see the site AD-FREE!
Please note: If you are already a writer/contributor at The Good Men Project, log in here before registering. (Request new password if needed).
Your ANNUAL PLATINUM membership includes:
1. Free and UNLIMITED ACCESS to participate in ANY of our new Social Interest Groups. We have active communities of like-minded individuals working to change the world on important issues. Weekly facilitated calls that lead to the execution of real-world strategies for change. Complete schedule here, with new ones starting all the time. We now offer 500 calls a year!
2. Free and UNLIMITED ACCESS to ALL LIVE CLASSES. Learn how to build your own platform, be a better writer, become an editor, create social change. Check out our training sessions. As a Platinum member, you can take them all.
3. Invitation to the MEMBERS ONLY Good Men Project Community on Facebook. Connect with other members, network and carry the conversation no one else is having one step further.
4. Access to our PREMIUM MEMBER LIBRARY with our recorded ConvoCasts and classes. ConvoCasts are a new form of media—and you are in them! Only Platinum Members get access to our recordings. And recordings of our classes are really valuable for those who do not have time to take the live classes or just want to review.
5. An ad-free experience. No banner, pop-up, or video ads when you log in.
6. Weekly conference calls with the publisher and other community members. Our weekly calls discuss the issues we see happening in the world of men in a friendly group setting.
7. PLATINUM member commenting badge. Your comments on our website will appear with a platinum member badge, signifying you are a part of our core community.
Price for ANNUAL PLATINUM membership is $50/year.
Your ANNUAL GOLD membership will include:
1. Free access to any ONE Social Interest Groups.Try them out! We have active communities of like-minded individuals working to change the world on important issues. Weekly facilitated calls that lead to the execution of real-world strategies for change. Complete schedule here, with new ones starting all the time.
2. Free access to any ONE of our live classes. Each month, we have the following: Learn how to be a Rising Star in media, build your own platform, become an advanced writer, become an editor or create social change. Check out our classes here. RSVP for any one class—if you want to take more, just upgrade to an Annual Platinum Membership.
3. Invitation to the MEMBER-ONLY Good Men Project Community on Facebook and all Weekly Conference calls with the Publisher and community. Connect with other members online and by phone!
4. An ad-free experience. No banner, pop-up, or video ads when you are logged in—as long as your membership is active.
5. GOLD commenting badge. Your comments on our website will appear with a gold member badge, signifying you are a part of our core community.
Price for ANNUAL GOLD membership is $25/year.
Your ANNUAL BRONZE membership will include:
1. Invitation to the MEMBER-ONLY Good Men Project Community on Facebook and weekly conference calls with the publisher and community. Connect with other members, network and carry the conversation no one else is having one step further.
2. A listing on our Friends of The Good Men Project page. Your support of our mission is noted and appreciated. See the page here!
3. An ad-free experience. No banner, pop-up, or video ads when you are logged in—as long as your membership is active.
4. BRONZE member commenting badge. Your comments on our website will appear with a bronze member badge, signifying you are a part of our core community.
Price for ANNUAL BRONZE membership is $12/year.
We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.
Price for ANNUAL BRONZE membership is $12/year.
“Here’s the thing about The Good Men Project. We are trying to create big, sweeping, societal changes—–overturn stereotypes, eliminate racism, sexism, homophobia, be a positive force for good for things like education reform and the environment. And we’re also giving individuals the tools they need to make individual change—-with their own relationships, with the way they parent, with their ability to be more conscious, more mindful, and more insightful. For some people, that could get overwhelming. But for those of us here at The Good Men Project, it is not overwhelming. It is simply something we do—–every day. We do it with teamwork, with compassion, with an understanding of systems and how they work, and with shared insights from a diversity of viewpoints.” —– Lisa Hickey, Publisher of The Good Men Project and CEO of Good Men Media Inc.
Improve your writing, expand your reach, and monetize your craft.
We welcome all experience levels.
Photo credit: Flickr