I think there was an article on this not too long ago, but I was curious as to when other men felt like they were 'men'. I'm 21 and really feel like I'm not anywhere closer to becoming a man than when I was 16. So when was it that you felt a change in yourself and knew you weren't just a boy anymore?
Growing a beard for the first time.
For me, I was 20 years old. My grandmother on my mother's side passed away, and it was really hard on Mom. Her Dad died 6 months earlier, her husband left her 2 months earlier, and then this. Needless to say, it broke her, and I realized I was a man when it was up to me to help her and be her rock.
With that said, I think it is a lot of little things that bring a boy to manhood. I believe that no one grows up until life forces them to, and it is never one cataclysmic event. For me, it involved having my heart broken, realizing that my parents were not here to ruin me, moving out of the house and having to take care of myself, and then being responsible for others as an RA at the university.
Once you realize that you are deciding factor in what happens in your life and start taking responsibility for your actions, and moreover realize that you can change your life on your own, then you will feel like a man.
I was 28/27 when my wife had a miscarriage with our first child. All around me was devastation and such, and I was the one who had to remain rational, make decisions, etc. For the first time the proverbial shit had hit the fan, and nobody was there telling me what to do. Even my father and father-in-law (two men I respect greatly) had nothing to add. That day fundamentaly changed me.
I don't at all consider myself a man, being only sixteen, but I feel like the experiencing the loss of both my parents over the past few years has really shaped me up a good bit. My Mother went first, and I didn't handle that situation like a man at all. Over the course of a good two years, starting when I was thirteen, she pretty much slowly died and I had a really hard time handling the whole situation. (Not as much on the loss of a parent as you'd think, but just being unselfish and taking care of her is what I struggled with.) After feeling a ton of regret for the way I treated her over those couple years, I told myself that if my Father got sick I would really take care of him. Well, just a few months after my Mother passed, Dad was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. I really tried my hardest to take care of him and help him take care of himself, and handled the whole situation a lot better than I could have ever imagined myself handling it. After a year we moved in with my Grandmother and it took a lot of pressure off my shoulders, but I still think I handled it pretty well.
Sorry for pretty much giving half of my life story, but after all that has happened I really feel a lot closer to being a man than ever. I look at myself as a lot more life-experienced and responsible than most teenagers, and even a few adults these days. I kept my head on straight through both my parents deaths where a lot of people really get messed up by stuff like this. Again, I'm nowhere near being a man, but I sure as hell feel a lot closer after going through all that.
July 11, 2001.
That was the day my son was born. I had been a screw-up my whole life. I was smart but never applied myself in school. Was about to get kicked out of community college because I never showed up for class (and was failing as a result). Joined the Navy, hoping it would help me grow up, and was a screw-up there as well.
On that July evening, after working crap jobs all my life and blowing even them, I looked down on that little boy are realized that there was someone who was depending on me. I had subconsciously figured everyone I was dragging down was there by choice. My wife chose to marry me, my parents chose to help me, etc. That little boy had no choice. He was here, and it was up to me to step up and be an example for him.
It wasn't always pretty, but in those ten years I've got from considerable screw-up to the owner of the second largest newspaper in a town of 77,000 people (and a metro area of about 150,000). I've been called a community leader and I am respected by a significant number of people in my town. That all sounds good, but it means jack. I think I'm a pretty good father and I'm raising a son I am incredibly proud of. That is the achievement that matters, and it all was spurred by the moment I realized I was a man.
I wish my story was a happy one but here it goes. It was when I told my father to shut up.
He was one of those who tore others down every time he could almost out of instinct (his family included), this time at my sister's wedding. I asked him to stop trashing my mother (they divorced) in front of the family. This behavior was a recurring thing with him. He went on about how she was a cunt/bitch/whore (yes actually using those words at a family event) and that he would not respect her. I asked him to stop saying those things in front of me as an act of respect to me if not one to her. He pulled me aside, put his arm around me and told me "I will say whatever the hell I want whenever the hell I want to and you will keep your mouth shut"
I immediately shoved him away from me and told him never to speak to me again. We have not spoken since. That was 7 years ago, I was 23.
Well you see, Nate, YOU became a man. Your father obviously never did. How pathetic.
Wow. A lot of hefty and heartbreaking stories around here. Last one, Nate, that's a tough one man. It takes a lot of balls to stand up to your father like that.
I really don't have a 'point in life' after which I've considered myself being a man, as i hardly consider myself to be a man. A month or two ago I did take a step up however, and I'd like to tell you about one other point related to that.
My whole life I've been riddled by injuries, big and small, often leaving me unable to play sports or do anything active for months or years. The first related thing that I consider sort of manly was the realization that when somebody else got injured I felt way more sorry for him than i would do for myself. I was tired of feeling sorry for myself, and when i got injured again, I mostly thought: Well, I'm glad it's me and not my buddy. At least I know how to deal with it.
The last one was a pretty hefty whiplash which I got in a game of hockey two years ago. It left me unable to study as I was unable to read a page out of a book, unable to work, unable to practice my hobbies or do anything useful. For me this meant a couple of months of playing video-games, often unable to remember what I was supposed to do halfway through a 'mission'.
A month or two ago i finally figured out that i just couldn't take the level it has come to now. I'm pretty much okay, for my standards (which kind of suck), but the past 2 years i have not really, REALLY actively done anything about the situation. I finally took matters in my own hands, started working out everyday, losing weight, getting fitter, stronger, and most of all, getting more energy which in turn helps the whole situation.
To sum things up: First I accepted my situation in stead of complaining about it, now I've gotten active in dealing with it. Just morsels compared to some stories here, but it is my story.
Stay manly all!