We need to embrace resistance. We have to learn that whenever we find that challenge, that difficulty, we are actually making progress. That our masculinity is never a finished product, but it’s actually a process. As men, we are in a constant state of becoming. There really is no such thing as a man. Only the process of his self-invention, and it is by this process that he manifests his identity.
And this process of becoming is not easy. It is not something that is comfortable. But who says we were meant to be comfortable? Let me ask you a question – at what moments have felt most like a man? I will answer it for you. I am not really interested in your answer because I already know it.
It is in those moments where you have achieved something at great sacrifice and risk. It is at those moments when you have pushed through a pain barrier in a gym, or you have faced a fear, when you have stood up to your boss, or even your woman, and where you have managed to assert yourself against the odds.
Why is it that we love heroic tales of men overcoming their weaknesses? I mean, this has been around since time began. The greatest heroes of our culture have been heroes with pathos, with emotion, with a sense of challenge in their own hearts. And there is catharsis in those moments when they face up to the demons and overcome. Laugh and get cynical all you want, but even your most treasured piece of literature is based on this story, so you ought to be taking this on board.
The point is this. Resistance, the challenge, the difficulty, is exactly the thing you should be seeking out in life. If something is too easy, then it is not an expression of your masculinity. In fact, you are weakening yourself, and you are rotting from the inside.
So, the next time someone is giving you shit because you have fucked something up, or you are feeling inadequate because you can’t seem to make it work, you don’t feel strong enough or clever enough, sexy enough or man enough, know within yourself that this is the feeling of your masculinity, your heroism, being born. Know that the awkwardness, the fear and the hurt are what give you the qualities of a real man. Know that a real man is a real, multi-dimensional human being. If the world around you requires that you should be some ill-defined cardboard cut-out of perfection, then stand up to that world. Because that idea of masculinity is a sickness, a neurosis born from an industrially-obsessed culture. And it is the direct cause of domestic, sexual and emotional abuse which has blighted men for centuries.
It is all a question of perspective. We can choose to wallow. We can chose to let our depressions ruin our sense of ourselves as men. We can chose to hit the walls in our development and see them as signs of inherent weakness.
OR we can welcome them. We can embrace our demons, our inadequacies, our shortcomings our mistakes and our fuck-ups, and we can chose to use them as a starting point of growth.
Of course to do this, we will need to get past the bullshit in a big way. But this is all part of the picture as far as I am concerned. Part of the difficulty of being a man in our generation is having the bravery to NOT live up to ideals of masculinity that continue to be validated in our culture. It is having the bravery to stand alone in new territory and treat all hostilities and negativities as a sign that we are doing the right thing, as confirmation of our newly chosen identities. It is having the balls to be seen as NOT a man, which will define you as a man.