Ryan Hall shares that all that you need is a mirror to find out what a real man is.
Gentlemen, let’s take a trip.
Let’s go to a place where you can live your life to one standard – your own. Let’s go to a place where nobody has an opinion about you and how you should live your life. Let’s go to a place where you’re free to be exactly who you’re being. Let’s go to a place where you don’t have to worry… about getting your man card revoked.
Ah yes, the man card.
The absurd, non-existent set of standards that men have in order to consider themselves manly. This is the set of standards that tell you what you can wear, who you can be friends with, who you find attractive, what you do or don’t do with body hair, of if crying is never acceptable.
I could go on and on. But I won’t. It won’t make for good reading.
How have these standards been determined?
I’ll never forget the pilot episode of The Sopranos (aka, my favorite TV show of all time.) Tony Soprano – the feared New Jersey crime boss starts seeing a therapist. Now, nobody could accuse Tony of being less than manly. I mean, how many people did we see him “whack” over the course of the series?
I think this quote from the pilot (which came out in 1999) and it symbolizes the complicated relationship that so many men have with their man card.
“What happened to Gary Cooper? The strong, silent type. That was an American. He wasn’t in touch with his feelings. He just did what he had to do. See, what they didn’t know was that once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings they wouldn’t be able to shut him up!”
All kidding aside, this is a serious problem. Men are far more likely to have un-diagnosed depression, are three times more likely to commit suicide than women, and are twice as likely than women to become dependent on alcohol.
The Sopranos was a work of fiction. The issues I’ve laid out are real life.
Time to throw away the deck?
Getting back to the issue of the man card, is it really necessary to keep up these ridiculous standards of masculinity? The better question is this, was it ever necessary?
Why should we live up to standards that others have set for us? You’re living your lives for other people. And I can say this with pretty good authority; this isn’t a powerful place to be. I had a friend (a woman) ask me a pretty pointed question the other day. Her question really knocked me out.
“What’s it gonna take for you to drop that (man card)?”
A little context; earlier in our conversation she asked me about crying. I said “I might as well just hand you my man card on a silver platter.”
I consider myself a pretty enlightened guy. I’ve embraced many aspects of myself that some might not exactly consider “manly” – whatever that means. I have embraced therapy and coaching. I practice yoga. I have become a coach myself. I am not scared of crying…most of the time.
However, I still have some pretty twisted views of what a man really is. I hate to admit it, but sometimes that still haunts me.
I made a vow after that conversation the other day. I made a vow to drop that man card act once and for all. Here’s the thing, I think that man card is made of rubber. Because I keep dropping it, and it keeps bouncing back to me.
Eventually I’m going to drop that thing. Because no set of circumstances, societal rules, or impossible standards will convince me that I am not a strong, powerful man.
Go to a mirror.
Look at the person staring back at you. And remember that is the only standard you have to live up to. The standard of the man in the mirror at his best, brightest, and most powerful and empowered is the only standard you have to live up to. Not Don Draper, not Frank Sinatra, not Tony Soprano, or not Ryan Hall. You are the only standard you have to live up to.
Fellas, the man card does actually exist. There is a standard of manhood. It’s very real, and it beats inside of your chest. If you let that guide you, you have nothing to worry about losing that man card.
It has nothing to do with being able to skin a bear, kick Chuck Norris in the head, or never cry – ever. It has to do with the mere fact that you are a human being with emotion, fears, wants, and dreams.
Photo by Jaan