This post could be a book. Maybe one day it will be.
I’m not going to go into great detail on gender dynamics, nor will I discuss the basis of gender in terms of biology, sexual dimorphism, or evolutionary reproductive strategies.
For now, I just want to share my personal experience on how my life got better once I decided to stop trying to be a “man.”
Nowadays, I focus instead on being a person, a complete human being.
Which, of course, means a harmonious balance between the yin and the yang – the feminine and the masculine.
It wasn’t always this way. In fact it’s only been the last year or so when I realized the harm I was doing to myself by trying to be a man.
For all of my pre-adult life, I couldn’t wait to grow up and finally become “a real man.”
And then I spent a few years in the adult world and I saw first hand the “men” of Western society.
I was looking for an example of the man I wanted to be. Having lost my father to cancer at age 13, I needed to find an example of what a “man” was and how I could emulate that.
But mostly I saw emasculated people who weren’t in control of their lives, who were unable to achieve the freedom and desires of their hearts…in fact, most of these men weren’t even in touch with their hearts at all.
In my opinion, that’s not manly – it’s weak.
For me, life’s most wonderful gifts came from following my heart.
I wanted to find a “man” to emulate. But media just bombarded me with the same old, worn out stereotype of a tough guy with a scruffy beard and an ass-kicking mentality.
That’s when I began to realize that these men were attractive role models because of their confidence, stoicism, and lifestyle freedom. But then I started thinking – wait…what the hell does any of this have to do with being a man?
The answer is that it doesn’t…at least it didn’t to me.
I love a woman with confidence who enacts her free will to her greatest desires. And if you want an example of stoic, think Harriet Tubman.
In fact, take any trait that society deems “manly” and ask yourself what the hell that has to do with being a man. What does my dick and balls have to do with which character traits I should represent and which ones I should not?
Turns out, the whole gender thing is just a social construction. According to psychology, it’s just yet another way for people to in-group and out-group.
Trust me, I’ve debated this to the death. I kept insisting that there were just fundamental differences between men and women. But the deeper I dug the more empty handed I became, which is exactly how reprogramming from social conditioning works.
Take any list of traits about what women want in a man and simply flip the genders and you’ll see what I mean.
As it turns out, men want the same things in their relationships that women want in theirs. For every woman that finds something attractive about a man, there’s a man who finds that same thing attractive in a woman.
“But…men are providers!” Really? What about the men who abandon their families? What about the single moms who work two jobs to support their children? Providers of what, exactly? And women don’t “provide” anything?
The whole thing is just a big, twisted social construction that prevents people from being the best version of themselves and forces them into boxes that dictate their character, their behavior, and even their very thoughts.
The reality is that gender is on a continuum. It’s a complicated, dynamic web that exists uniquely in each one of us. And it has nothing to do with a person’s junk or their chromosomes.
But we’ve damaged ourselves so severely by forcefully cramming ourselves into one of three boxes – man, woman, or transgender – that many people don’t even know who the hell they are anymore.
And we’ve formed arbitrary social agreements on what a “man” is and what a “woman” is…so that when you look at these two stereotypes, it’s easy to see the vast difference between the two. But the difference is truly illusory.
In my opinion, when people force themselves to act in accordance with their socially-prescribed gender, it actually damages the individual and prevents them from fully living a lifestyle of choice.
For example, when an older friend of mine found out that I was about to become the father, he gave me the following advice: “Be like the sun to your woman. Give her warmth, spread your light, and ask for nothing in return. Be like the sun.”
I thought that was really great advice at the time.
But then I tried it. And it failed me miserably.
This was probably one of the biggest misconceptions I had about being a man…and honestly one of the worst pieces of advice I’ve ever received.
Nevertheless I followed it. Because I was a “man” and that’s what men do!
Needless to say, this led to a lot of resentment and meant that I did not take care of myself…which meant that my needs weren’t getting met, which led to more resentment…the cycle went on and on.
In America, people seem to have a boner for self-sacrifice and co-dependency. I don’t understand why…but I do understand first-hand how devastating it can be.
Why would someone want to self-sacrifice when they could freely give of themselves? Why would you want to be co-dependent when you could be cooperative?
Self-sacrifice is one of those “manly” traits that not only left me feeling drained and resentful, but it also was a huge turn off for my wife. Our sex life tanked and I couldn’t figure out why. Was I not being “manly” enough?
I found myself asking literally dozens of times each day, “What would a ‘man’ do in this situation?”
This approach made my life cumbersome, clunky, and immeasurably difficult. And it didn’t get me laid.
I found myself swirling in an amorphous mass of twisted advice echoing all the things that society says a ‘man’ is.
“Be a man! Don’t cry!”
“Put your foot down!”
“Show her who’s boss!”
“Be strong, stand up straight!”
“Don’t show your emotions.”
“Never admit weakness.”
I mean the list goes on and on.
And to be fair, I am good at doing these things. I practiced constantly…because I wanted to be a “real man.”
Whenever I would hear someone talk about being a “man” or a “real man” then it was pretty much guaranteed that there was deep insecurity just beneath the surface of their bravado.
Once I fully realized this, I no longer felt the need to cling to notions of what society says I should be.
This was a huge breakthrough for me, as I could focus instead on being the best version of ME that I could, regardless what meat dangles between my legs.
I shifted my focus from what would a man do to what is the best thing I can do.
And my entire life shifted as a result.
Now I ask myself “What do I want?” and “What’s an effective way to get that?”
Life is simpler, I feel stronger and more confident, and I no longer have the pressure of trying to twist myself into the monster society wants me to be.
I found that the #1 thing I could do to be a strong “man” was to simply take care of myself and the people around me. That’s it.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have a long way to go in undoing the damage that I allowed society to do to me.
For example, I still find it really difficult to cry. And that’s sad. Crying feels so good and it’s good for the soul. Yet, I can’t seem to do it.
I can’t cry because I was beaten to submission by a society that told me I shouldn’t.
I feel damaged. Incomplete. Like a part of me is missing.
They took my tears just like they took a part of my dick when I was born. And, yeah, I’m pretty pissed about it.
Thank God men are starting to wake up to all this bullshit.
Thank God men are beginning to realize that a “real man” is a person who is not afraid of their emotions: who is not afraid to feel.
Growing up I was told that a man does not show his emotions…unless of course they’re “manly” emotions like anger. So stupid.
The whole thing is so stupid.
Now that society is waking up, we’re starting to realize that true strength lies in vulnerability. Because, when you’re open and vulnerable that means you’re not afraid…you’re not afraid of yourself and you’re not afraid of what others might think of you.
Vulnerability is the ultimate confidence: the pinnacle of strength.
Vulnerability says, “I might be weak at times. I might be wrong. I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I have fears. I have insecurities. I have stories about myself and the world that might not be true.”
The reason vulnerability is strength is because it takes a lot of courage to do. Besides, all of these things are true for each of us, regardless of our gender. Pretending you don’t have weaknesses is a fearful endeavor and it ultimately demonstrates that you’re weak.
It’s easy to pretend you’re strong. It’s easy to lie about your emotions and repress them.
But when it comes to getting what you truly want in life, easy is a cop-out. Easy is for cowards.
The single most powerful method I’ve used to become a stronger, more confident, and more powerful individual is the conscious practice of vulnerability and humility.
It wasn’t by punching people in the face really hard or by using my eye muscles to hold back tears.
The more vulnerable I become, the more attracted others are to me. I’ve noticed that people tend to be drawn by vulnerability. It’s like a magnet that pulls them in the direction of living their lives as their authentic selves.
As it turns out, all of the advice I received about being a “man” ended up only distancing me from other people, all while damaging me and preventing myself from getting the things I wanted most in life.
“What do I want and how do I get it?” is the only question any strong “man” or “woman” should be asking.
The bad-assest thing anyone in this world can do is to examine their approach in life and ask themselves if it’s really getting them what they want.
It can be quite scary to go against the grain and admit that the way others want you to live simply isn’t right for you.
Nothing is more hardcore than the ability to examine your story and love yourself through the process of change…
…oh and doing your best to love others along the way.
Now that’s some man shit right there.