My first lesson in manhood was a painful experience. A baptism of fire metaphorically. I remember visiting the old man on his hospital bed a boy looking forward to spending time with his father over the December holidays and a few weeks later a man told not to weep and be strong for the family’s sake. My first inheritance, being the “man of the house”. Over the next years I have had several lessons and gained experiences that shaped the man I am today. I thought I would jot some down in relation to what I feel being a man entails.
Being a man is accepting weakness and making this your strength. Unfortunately we are raised in a society that drills into us that men should not be weak. You must never come second best, especially to a woman. This type of patriarchal values are like the autorun virus in our system that corrupts all our files. We are raised to believe that it is chivalry to sacrifice the little you have just to show you are in “control”. We now have young men who see escapism as the best way to hide their weakness. This leads to drugs, suicides, alcoholics and worst of them the kind who feel they can only exert their dominance through violence thus rape and GBV.
Being a man is respecting others especially those you may consider below you. How many times do you say “sorry”, “thank you”, “excuse me” and such words of courtesy? A man respects himself and all those around him.
Being a man is asking for directions. This applies a lot to life as much as to physical directions. Most of us bottle pressure within and this eats away at us until there is no turning back. A real man confides in others and seeks counsel. Even Kings do so. It’s a matter of trusting others and trusting yourself to do what is best.
Being a man is never giving up. Failure is just a stepping stone to success. You must never give up especially on yourself.
Being a man is understanding oneself. If you know you drink a bit too much especially after your team loses then go with a designated driver. You need to understand your nature, the little things that tick you off etc. Know what makes you happy, what makes you sad, what angers you. Gain some principles and stick to them. Stand by them even in the face of adversity. If you stand for peace do not condone violence or injustice.
Being a man is knowing what you want in life. Have a set of goals that you aspire to achieve. This measures how far you’ve gone and give you a sense of purpose. As I often say, the purpose of life is a life of purpose.
You can never really capture all the little things that make a good man but life is all about learning from your experiences. We all go through different phases in life and have different experiences. There is a gap in our generation caused by too much individualism. Gone are the uncles and older men who held your hand and guided you through the transition into manhood. But I hope this does not deter us from raising young men of honor, courage and principle.