Want to Become a Man? Act like it.
Masculinity is a funny thing. It is both elusive (meaning it must be earned) and tenuous (meaning it must continually be proven).
I thought of this article is in response to an interesting, unfortunate experience I had over the weekend. Here is the situation:
I went to a college Football game tailgate with my girlfriend, sister, and Dad to catch up with friends and then watch some of a top college Water Polo tournament at a local venue. My college team was playing in the Water Polo games - so me and my girlfriend wore shirts supporting them. We visited a couple tailgates that were hosted by some family friends and it was amazing the stark contrast in how the people at those tailgates acted.
One group (note this does not include the hosts or anyone related to the hosts) of people became so enraged when seeing our shirts - just of a certain rival school - shouted all type of hate speak and made an outward effort to get upset and make our time as uncomfortable as possible. Despite both being guests of the same host, many people there felt entitled to be there, but comfortable being unnecessarily rude.
The other tailgate we went to, which was hosted and attended by people from the other school was entirely more welcoming. They were much more comfortable with themselves and seemed more interested in productive and positive interactions.
The more insecure someone is with themselves, the more easily and often they feel their masculinity being threatened - whether it is from being heckled, taking part in an activity they perceive as effeminate, or even seeing their favorite team or politician lose.
The most common way most men feel they can prove their masculinity is through agression. There is a multiplier effect that happens when this is done in public.
If people could be more comfortable/secure with themselves, agression could be significantly reduced.
It does amaze me with the importance people place on their identity for the school they attended and the diploma they received. For some people, this is absolutely justified. Maybe you played a sport, represented your school in the band, or ran for political office. In that case - you likely are very much able to take pride in what you did. For a lot of other people - it is great to take pride in the school they spent 4 to 5 years at, but don’t let it fool yourself that you are any better than anyone else. Hat-tip to Saturday Morning Breakfast Comics for this recent strip on the reality of the college degree for most people:
Manhood is often juxtaposed with womanhood - which I believe is an ill-placed comparison. It leads to superficial outward comparisons such as:
- Is Yoga manly?
- If I like cooking, am I any less of a man?
- Thinking that gay marriage somehow could threaten the validity of your own marriage.
- Being threatened by the fact someone is different - race, city, college, political party.
Instead, we should compare and contrast manhood with childhood. Childhood is about being self-centered, fearful, and dependent on others. Manhood isn’t an event that happens to you, it is something that you cause.
Manhood is about striving for excellence in all aspects of your life. Having courage, loyalty, industry, resiliency, resolution, personal responsibility, self reliance, integrity, and being able to make sacrifices. This isn’t directed at men - women can and should strive to have these traits as well.
Change comes from action. Act first, then become.
In order for anyone to become better, the first step is knowing who they currently are. Forcing self-awareness is often tough, but the truth is imperative to move forward. Once you understand the true reality, think about the person you want to be - then start acting like it.
A quick note - this is a semi-hypocritical post as I have often been guilty of many of these insecurities.