We know that the path with no obstacles does not lead anywhere, and it surely will not guide you to becoming the best man you can be.
Manhood, struggle, self-reliance and success. On one hand, they are just words. On the other, they are notions of masculinity that males grapple with during a lengthy, and hopefully fulfilling process of self-discovery.
One facet of manhood often gets overlooked in the intense rhetoric regarding such conceptions of male identity (see this thorough analysis by Veronica Grace). A facet so personality shaping, because without it, so-called abilities to bench-press 300 pounds, ‘get’ with attractive women and fatten your wallet will have no value whatsoever.
When reading The Wolf of Wall Street, a memoir that chronicles the salacious exploits of former securities tycoon Jordan Belfort, a particular excerpt epitomized this very component. During the passage, the alpha-male Belfort opens up to his wife’s aunt when lamenting the excess that comes with being the real life Gordon Gekko. He opines:
Most rich men wait to trade in their first wives. I know you’re a smart lady, so you know exactly what I’m talking about. That’s the way of things on Wall Street, and, as you say, I didn’t invent that game. But everything in my life became accelerated. I missed my twenties and thirties and went straight to my forties. There are things that happen during those years that build a man’s character. Certain struggles, Patricia that every man needs to go through to find out what it means to really be a man. I never went through that. I’m an adolescent inside a man’s body.
If someone who defrauded the US Government, investors, and his wives can grasp such a truth, then maybe there is hope for the rest of the male race. The chance to take your lumps early through your 20s and move forward may not be appealing in this age of instant gratification. In spite of that, not seeing those chances as blessings in disguise means forgoing some valuable life experiences.
Those experiences then act as voices in your head that tell you “I have encountered this scenario before, hence I can think and act accordingly.” Although the fruits of those growing pains are not felt right away, the rewards from them return in the form of those guiding voices.
The journey in which you get lost and subsequently find yourself is the only way to ensure that you never go astray again. How will you know which routes to avoid unless you have charted both the tested and untested waters?
Anyone can boast about his success but it takes a strong person to embrace these self-enriching struggles. However, the most endearing thing about masculinity is that it does not come from outward displays of machismo. It stems from the inner fortitude to internalize those character-building experiences.
So do not be afraid to make these struggles a part of yourself because that is the only way you will learn to become the best man you can be.
Photo: Tax Credits/Flickr