The game of life comes with many unspoken rules. We all adapt because we think we have to play to be accepted. Living with a sense of true masculinity, for men, is a thought that, most of the time, runs at the forefront of their minds, even when they are not being intentionally cognizant of that fact. Am I adequate in my masculinity? In what I purchase, how I behave, how I relate to others, do I qualify as a man? Those are questions that first begin to be answered in relation to a father figure. Comprehension for most men is experiential, what is often learned is “caught rather than taught“.
Swimming upstream, is a characteristic that rarely, if ever, gets seen, much less adequately respected. The comprehension concerning the thoughts of masculinity and the inherent need of such often go unrecognized and unaddressed. Fear often accompanies because the worst thought in the world is to be perceived as anything but a red blooded, masculine male. The perception creates a stigma that can forever define someone and no man wants to fight off those demons even if they are just inferred. I have witnessed this behavior in men of every status. And honestly, to be fighting so strongly against a persona, that does not even define, is indicative of an unhealthy pressurization that exists in both the heart and mind of men.
Masculine security starts being attacked from the day a male child is born. The right of passage and the need to prove comes with the territory. The most awful experience of a man’s life is to not be able to do something that is the fulfillment of masculine expectation. The shame is unfathomable and the willingness to embrace that vulnerability is non-existent based on their need to survive.
As a woman, I have watched men grapple with these issues and honestly, I understand, but I also feel perplexed. I know I keep returning to the stages of development but truly it is an understanding that is essential for anyone to thrive. I can say that, in the feminine world, there is a similar phenomenon but I suppose the vulnerability factor is the difference. Women emote and are less likely to be judged for doing so, thus there is more freedom to express without undo criticism. However, as a “tom boy” type, I have felt the effects of feminine expectation as well and I understand the outcome emotionally whether male or female. We have all learned throughout the years, how to throw a punch, without fists, and that happens most often through the grid of our sexuality. Those blows can be leveling to our sense of belonging and the shame of embarrassment is usually adequate for an effective recoil.
I really believe that it is time to have a civil discussion about how to discern, embrace and securely live our sexual identity. The prolonged effects of adolescents creates a dissonance for adult progression and it is necessary for us to stop the behaviors that have been used as emotional weapons and to begin to relate as adults of varied dispositions. That being said, the responsibility ultimately falls on the shoulders of each person as individuals. We have to become people of security. Even the slightest inferences, deemed as jokes, begin to have long term effects upon developing children and the care with which we navigate those developmental seasons will be to the degree that we succeed.
I grew up in a world where masculinity was about athleticism. That was the defining factor of accomplishment. I believe that can be said or understood by many in regard to male children. Yet, this idealism, in reality, is so short sighted. There is nothing wrong with athletics or being athletic, it helps to build character and an ability to work as a team but that is not the measure of masculinity. Masculinity and femininity are both grounded and founded in an understanding of the person that we are actually created to be. Living to the measure of our particular person is the objective. I can tell you that it isn’t any fun to be in an environment that is laden with sexually defined roles and to feel completely out of sorts.
Men and women who have accomplished their stages of development have nothing to prove, there is no fight because an assured certainty resides within themselves. These people are pleasant to be around. They make those around them feel welcome and loved regardless of their particular way of being. The old saying, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself“, is true in regard to our formation. Being at ease with development gives a person a much better opportunity to grow into themselves rather than into some distorted image of themselves that comes from an outward imposition.
I know you all can understand what I’m saying. Holding a shape until it forms that way is not optimum for relatability or to anyone’s sense of being cherished or loved. The formation is important, don’t get me wrong, but that is done with attentive love and care and a respect for how a person is designed.
For me, it has been an emotional roller coaster at times, this trying to discover and maintain the person that I truly am. It takes courage to face off with those of your own gender because inevitably understanding and leverage don’t necessarily go hand in hand. To experience pain or loss or to be overlooked because you cannot or won’t assimilate to an understanding of someone who has not yet grasped these concepts is discouraging. Yet, in my estimation, these instances are the catalyst for our future development and ability to love and lead otherwise. Let’s change the momentum and begin to provide the ease of development that is necessary for healthy and inspiring human endeavors.