It’s the same old story.
Man bumbles through life, gets the job that’s expected of him and waits for the weekend to drown in some sort of liquid confidence.
Let’s name this man Bill.
Although Bill doesn’t know it yet, a desperate part of him always wanted something more. To start his own company, be with the woman of his dreams and to travel the world. But let’s face it, chances are Bill will most likely only achieve a small number of his dreams and be struck with a dreaded mid-life crisis.
Much like Bill, I was a young man desperate for something more than being told to be a man in times of hardship.
But which man should I be?
The man I see on television obsessed with his looks, the man I see on the news looking like he’s starting wars all over the world, the man I see in an office who seems obsessed with money?
Whatever being a man is or isn’t, this was certainly NOT a man’s world that I wanted to be a part of.
One which supports men to be nothing more than what’s expected of them: mindless work, repressed emotions and opening jars.
It seems boys are expected to be men as soon as their voice drops and they can grow facial hair.
Our initiations happen in the work place, on the sports field and through television shows and mass media. We’ve replaced first-hand experience with secondhand knowledge, trusting the latest Hollywood male actors to show us how to be men.
“The mass of men lead quiet lives of desperation.”
~Henry David Thoreau
Inspirational men have inspired us to stand up and be the change. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela are prime examples. George Michael, Elon Musk and Fela Kuti were brave men willing to break the status quo.
It’s not essential for every man to do as they did, we each have our own journey. What these men had, however, was the courage to be vulnerable and stand up for what they believed in.
Modern society isn’t doing enough to help support men who expose their vulnerability. Here are some ways that may help:
Supportive Male Role Models.
Our nearest and dearest are our first point of call. Fathers can share their wisdom with sons as they watch them grow, and friends can band together and create support groups. Commending your male friends on their achievements is vital for their growth, as well as your own. We are stronger as a team.
Joining/Forming Men’s Groups.
For those without close male family members or friends, you can benefit by joining a men’s group. There are men who choose to live their lives in different ways. Still, the journey for each can be somewhat similar. The courage to open up to other men is immensely beneficial. Often, when feeling vulnerable, men will support and guide one another in groups.
Practising Yoga (or anything else not commonly perceived as masculine).
Practising yoga can give a man the confidence to break the perception of yoga being for women only. In larger cities this is no longer an issue, but in smaller cities around the world this continues to be a stereotype. It’s courageous to be vulnerable in a space that isn’t regarded as masculine.
Depending on the type of man and situation, we need to become more comfortable with who we are but we tend to categorise people and disregard the uniqueness of the individual.
Men are often grouped into the same category and expected to be a certain way, perhaps unnatural to them.
As long as a man is living by his own core values, it doesn’t matter what profession he chooses.
Being unique requires courage and vulnerability, and it’s this rare combination that we can all strive for.
Author: Jonty Hikmet
Photo: Barney Moss/Flickr
Editor: Lieselle Davidson