What constitutes being a man? If I was to ask ten random men, and ten random women, I believe I would get 20 fairly different answers. There might be some similarities in what everyone considers to be “manly,” but I would bet there would be enough differences, that most of us would step back and say “I hadn’t thought of that.”
For me, being a man first and foremost means owning my life the best that I can. The decisions that I make, I want to be my own, and that I have confidence in them. After all, the actions that make up the life you live are truly the most truthful description of who and what you are. You can talk a good game about anything. But in the end, you should judge yourself by your actions.
I’d like then to think, that the actions I perform every day are what make me a man.
For my family, it’s putting my children first, ensuring that their basic needs are met and that I am good shepherd in this journey that they are on. Being compassionate to them, but also setting boundaries and consequences that help them grow into mature, considerate and independent adults is key to me feeling like I am being a good man.
For my community, it is about being engaged, and caring enough not just for friends and neighbors, but helping total strangers if and when I can, because that shows I am responsible to the world for helping it be a better place. I don’t subscribe to the rugged individualist role when it comes to determining if I am living up to the man I envision myself to be. Charity, even if it is something as simple as a smile at the post office to a civil servant who is largely overlooked, to me is being a man.
For the workplace, being a man means having integrity, acting from a place of leadership and conviction, to both guide an organization to its goals, but also be a responsible citizen of the marketplace.
And then there is the role where “manliness” is perhaps most distinct, in opposition to a life partner. For me, being with a woman means that I walk that balance between being strong, supportive and directive when she needs me to take the lead, but also understanding that as a female, she very well might respond differently to situations, words, needs, emotions. There, it can be a tightrope, walking the line of projecting a “manliness” from a bygone era when “men were men,” and being the softer, compassionate man I find so many women want today.
Being a man isn’t easy today. I don’t mind saying that. I am happy to hear from women and men whether they understand what I am saying here, and to discuss the role of men more. I think this is a healthy dialogue, and I know I learn more every time I open myself up and am vulnerable to discussions like this. But the world needs to discuss these things as so many men I know feel trapped in models of manliness that they feel compelled to subscribe to. I see couples struggling on both sides of the equation, where the scales alternate their balance between the “manly” man, and the more modern sensitive man society sometimes demands, and at other times mocks.
For now, I guess the easiest thing for me to do is simply be me. This is the man I am. It is the man I want my children, my lover, my community, to remember when I am long gone. I just want to be the best me I can be.
Guest Blogger; Richard D’Ambrosio
So ladies of have heard from the man himself. I believe we can only live together in harmony when we understand each other. What new things have you learnt about men you didn’t already know? Do these things differ from your perceptions? Would you like to learn more about how men view the world?
Please leave a comment below.