Hello, my fellow men, it's me again!
Some half a year ago I was trying to date this marvel of a girl (long story), and this one time, we were talking and she asked me "What does it mean 'to be a real man' to you?". I told her that in my opinion, a real man does the right things, keeps his word, and in general, is a proper person. While I'm not sure if the answer satisfied her, it got me wondering - whether or not I know what a real man is, I still don't know how to actually become one. Even if my above answer is correct, it's only half the thing, it seems.
Just a couple of days ago, I was walking home from dance class with our teacher and another girl. The teacher is a flirty lady, and sometimes she flirts with me. On that particular day, both she and the other girl praised me a lot for my dancing, and for me generally being a nice and cool person. But when they began to discuss their men, the girl asked her "Well if you're single, why not try George?" to what she answered "Well George is nice and all, but I'm done with boys, I want a real man."
(While I appreciate the honesty, it was really rude, first off, because I was right beside them, second, because its fucking emasculating(!), and third because she just had to stop right before me - am I really that bad? I thought I was fine, didn't they praise me? Why flirt with me at all? I always end up being too late it seems. >.>)
I'm 24 right now, and I am facing a kind of personal crisis - I don't feel like a real man (no, not just because of this particular case - this one was more of an eye-opener). Sure, I have that manly organ in my pants, but that's not enough, right? Not for the rational, moral animals that we humans are. The above listed traits are one thing. Judging by the dance teacher's exs, I'd assume financial stability and 'maturity' are another. But there's still more to it. What bothers me is that I'm not competitive (really can't be arsed, don't see the point of it), that my ambitions are only so big (guess its the difficult situation in my country), and that I'm really not ready for any responsibility because I was never really given any.
So I guess what I'm asking is - how do you actually change? Desire is one thing, but what's the direction? Are there guidelines? My dad taught me some things, my mom taught me other things, but since they're both intellectuals, they couldn't teach me the less intellectual things. When I was a teen, I used to run with those 'problem kids', but I didn't learn too much from them - guess I'm just too well brought up for some of those things. I feel really useless, I have few practical skills (plumbing, repairing electrical devices, etc.), one of my cousins even rubs it in my face (because he's a true street kid, who used to run with gangs and whatnot, because he's a blue-collar and knows his way around tools and chit).
True - among gangs, killing a rival gangmember is a rite of passage. But that's not what Sir meant.
I think we really do have disagreement. I've read of those that attempted to initiate themselves. With mountain climbing, xtreme sports, etc. In groups in which the initiators were kinda clueless themselves (frats). It can make you an excellent mountain climber or mud biker or whatever, but it doesn't seem to make the shift so you know you got your balls.
And if you can't find it alone, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
IDK if this is a side issue or crucial, but: there is a superficial resemblance between those who are below a level and above it -- each is not concerned with it. Male infants are not concerned if they're manly enough. Neither am I (not much, anyway). But between, I craved this sort of enough-ness. The solution in the middle wasn't to just decide not to think about it -- just like the solution when in college isn't to decide to be done with your studies, so you can superficially resemble those who are out. The solution was to push hard into what I felt a need about and get what I wanted and come out the other side.
Some of the best experience of my life, and I am a lot happier now.
I'm not exactly speaking of initiating yourself. I'm talking about life initiating you. Situations you encountered where you know you made the right decision and acted like a man. Not in a superficial way, but situations that actually required mental and maybe physical maturity and fortitude. Actual trials. Sometimes these rites of passage are accompanied by a formal, superficial one. Sometimes they aren't.
I agree with your last paragraph.
But how do you know your worth if there's no one to show\ prove it to? Of course, one can always make a shack somewhere deep in the forest, fight wolves each day and be a master survivor, but in the eyes of city-folk they'll just be some kind of crazy person with no useful skills - because most city-folk rarely venture out of the city, and if they do, it's usually into the 'safe' areas. Knowing your worth is good, but having others value you is also important, if anything, than its for the ego (no, not bigotry).
"To thine own self be true." When your values don't align with your actions, it can cause depression.
Do you believe in independence and a good work ethic, but you are living off your parents?
Do you believe in honesty, but you are stuck in a lie?
Do you believe in helping others, but don't give anything?
Do you have a passion that you are hiding from others?
Bottom line: Are you doing what you know to do?
Now this I like, this digs right into the problem! Will have to think over this.
You answered your own question. In my opinion the worth of a man is determined by what he is doing (NOT what he has done). Not by anyone else. If someone thinks you aren't a man, examine why. If you agree with their reasoning, do all you can to fix the problem. If you reject their premise, don't worry about it. You can't please everyone. Worry about pleasing God, and the people you regard. Your ego should be self-fulfilling. When you receive feelings of validation from someone else, it should be because you view them as a mirror of sorts, reflecting the best already inside you.
Ask 50 guys what they think makes a "real man" you are going to get 50 different responses.
For me, the attributes that a quality man should possess are: responsibility, commitment, a sense of duty, an urge for self improvement, and a sense of self reliance.
That's my two cents though.
'self-reliance' - is that about being confident of yourself and your ability?
Good point though.
ahah, nice one!
Very well put. So your main advice is to get out there and start earning experience?
Earning experiences - then reflecting on them, I'd say. The Apostle Paul who wrote 1 Corinthians was a relentless self-reflector; striving each day to understand what dissatisfied him about the day before, and what he pledged to do differently moving forward. As he put it, "Forgetting what is behind and reaching forth unto the mark." For him that mark was the Kingdom of Heaven; for you, real manliness.
Call it repentance (as Paul would) or self correction; what do professional athletes do but look at yesterday's videos or ask their coaches, "What could I have done better?" But all the while - practicing, training, striving hard.
So self reflection is one of my measures of real manliness.