For Men, friendship, Life, Love, Manhood, Ponderings, Thoughts

be brave with yourself

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with trying to figure myself out emotionally. As a man, I feel like I have a very unique and, sadly, widely stereotypically unacceptable personality type. I’m an emotionally expressive being. I get insecure, angry, hurt, heartbroken, joyful, excited, anxious, depressed, stressed, affectionate, and just about anything else you can imagine. And whatever emotion I’m feeling is expressed through my facial expressions, actions, and words.

I’m the type of person who loves to show the people I care about that I care about them. So, naturally, I do that in ways that I’m familiar with. For me, that’s straight up telling them or looking to spend time with them. (My love language is equal parts words of affirmation and quality time.)

But lately I’ve been feeling like I’m supposed to change myself. Like I’m too clingy or emotionally attached to the people I care about. So today I practiced being more withdrawn, distant, cold with my friends because I thought that’s what they wanted. You see, every morning I send my friends a message that reads exactly this: “good morning fam.” But yesterday morning I didn’t. Why? Because I was silencing myself. I thought, I’m too loud. I need to tone myself down a bit. 

I wanted to be more like the other guys, like my best (guy) friend, more even-keeled, laid back, someone who couldn’t care one way or the other if his friends loved him or not. I thought that’s who I was supposed to be, who everyone wanted me to be. So I tried. And I failed.

Because one of my friends noticed when I didn’t send that good morning text. They noticed when I silenced myself. And we had a long conversation about it and at the end I just asked them straight up, “Do you think I’m too clingy? Does it bother you? Or do you just think that my personality is more emotionally expressive than most guys’ and, because you love me, it doesn’t bother you?” And their response was the latter.

This week I learned an important lesson, I think. One that’s been a long time coming. And that is that, yes, I have an atypical personality type. Yes, I’m a more emotionally expressive being. Yes, I have no problem and actually thrive on showing and receiving affection. No, I’m not less of a man. I am completely, wonderfully, irrevocably myself.

Guys, we have got to learn to be brave with ourselves. We have got to stop trying to please everyone because, in the end, that will please no one. If the people around you really love you then they’re not going to care if you’re clingy or if you’re laid back. All they’re going to care about is if you are completely and utterly the rawest, truest version of yourself that you could ever be.

That’s the you they fell in love with.

You know, when I tried to distance myself (which was, honestly, a defense mechanism; I was feeling insecure so I thought forcibly detaching myself would spare me the pain that comes from loving another person) I felt like I was dying. I felt so out of it all day. I felt like a part of me was missing, like I was suffocating the truth inside my soul. All because I thought that’s what the people who loved me wanted, all because I thought that I could force the insecurities to go away if I just stopped caring.

But you know what? I’m proud of the fact that I am emotionally expressive. Because, in my eyes, that means that the people I care the most about will never have to go a day thinking that I don’t love them. Because they’ve seen how I show love and they’ve seen who I am in soul.

Is love terrifying? Yes. Is it painful? Heck, yeah. Love is vulnerability. Love is attachment. Love is expression. Love is learning what ways those you love best receive the expression of your affection. Love is choosing to give your friends and family what they need to feel love, even if it’s different than what you need.

Love is real, and it is raw, and it is torn, and it is agonizing, and it is true, and it is brave.

So be brave with yourself. Because the people who deserve you aren’t looking for a cheap replica. They’re here for you – all of you; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

For Men, Life, Living, Manhood

man enough?

Yesterday, I had my so-called “man-card” revoked…. Simply because I said real manhood is not defined by whether or not a man likes sports, drinks beer, listens to rock, has a beard, drives a pickup truck, likes to hunt, or is “outdoorsy”.

I was slightly offended. I don’t drink. I don’t sport a beard. I don’t like to hunt. I don’t like pickup trucks. I like musicians like Taylor Swift (sorry, but not really).

But that’s not why I was offended. Not because this guy’s definition of manhood meant that I wasn’t a man, but because this definition extremely devalues what it means to be a real man. The definition of manhood is not confined to one’s interests or hobbies. Manhood is not that shallow.

Manhood is defined by something so much deeper and far more complex. Hobbies and interests does not a real man make; character does.

Real men love their significant other and their children tenderly, affectionately, intimately, and passionately.

Real men are humble. Real men are kind. Real men are patient. Real men can
control themselves. Real men respect women enough that they control their sexual desires. Real men respect all
creatures – human or otherwise. Real men don’t delight in suffering. Real men  : don’t mock others. Real men are comfortable in their sexuality. Real men understand that our lives are not men to be run by our emotions – emotions are fleeting and as changing as the current. Real men care about others. Real men respect authority. Real men humbly and graciously accept correction or
discipline. Real men understand that actions have consequences. Real men respect themselves enough to be modest in all things. Real men are gentle. Real men are faithful. Real men are honest. Real men are just. Real men are fierce. Real men protect those they care about. Real men aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. Real men are hard workers. Real men follow the rules. Real men understand themselves and others. Real men are compassionate. Real men are independent. Real men know that every person is unique and don’t mock others for their unique personalities.

Character defines a mannot whether or not his interests and hobbies seem
masculine. Masculinity means nothing if ones character is poor.

Men who murder, rape, steal, cheat, lie, are lazy, have no compassion, are disrespectful, etc etc… are not real men. They may like to hunt or drive a pickup truck, but their character is flawed, their manhood is compromised.

Guys, it doesn’t matter if you are a hipster or a redneck. It doesn’t matter if you like hip hop or country. It doesn’t matter if you have a beard or not. It doesn’t matter if you go to bars or not. It doesn’t matter if you drive a Ferrari or a Jeep. It doesn’t matter if you are beefy or thin. It doesn’t matter if you are a lumberjack or a salesman. It doesn’t matter if you like to paint or hunt. Because if you have no character, you have nothing.

So, men of the world, if you’re like me and are tired of being treated like less of a man for liking or doing certain things, know this: those men who mock you and think they’re so much better than you, their character is flawed. But you, you’re character is strong because you stood strong in the face of verbal abuse and emotional torment. You didn’t fight back. You turned the other cheek. You were strong. You were brave.

Your sons and daughters have a real hero on their hands.