Let me tell you about what masculinity represented for me growing up as a child. As a boy of the 80’s I was witnessing an evolution of what a man could (& dare I say, should) be. The likes of Arnie & Sly Stallone were providing me with aspirational male figures – strong, brave & tough – these men were winners & leaders. Men wanted to be them, women wanted to be with them. That’s what I saw, that’s what aspired to be.
My reality couldn’t have been more different. I was the youngest of three boys & my natural perception was that my voice was of least value around the family table. Without having the emotional intelligence to process things accurately, my experiences led me to be a shy & insecure teenager. With a skinny & weak physique to match, I desperately wanted to be so many things that I wasn’t. (Please note, this isn’t a sob story, it’s a lesson I am now grateful to look back on with understanding).
Internally my natural inclination was to connect with the character traits my mum showed me – kindness, compassion & love – but sadly none of these fitted into my perception of masculinity at the time. In an effort to fit in & be the person society said I should be, I put on my mask & “manned up”. Life quickly became about lad points at the expense of the natural human instincts I was born with and so loved in others.
The thing is, wearing a mask is the opposite of being in flow – it takes effort, it’s draining & it causes internal unrest. This is because our soul wants us to be authentic, to show up true to our innate nature within, it’s when we live in tune with that energy that we truly feel at ease.
Whilst I believe human beings are born with kindness, compassion & love naturally within, society showed me that these aren’t masculine traits. As we grow out of our childhood years our mind is evolving based on past experiences &, in its quest for safety, it naturally looks to lead us to seek validation. Validation comes from conformity & from there, as a man, our emotions get buried & another mask goes on. I fell right into the trap, play by play it unfolded perfectly.
Having learned my lessons, there is a burning desire inside of me to bring this message to life. In doing so, I’m not asking men to lose our natural masculine energy – what I am saying is that it hurts us & those around us, if we lose or don’t embrace our natural emotional side. That feeling of emptiness within you is not because you are ambitious to achieve more, it’s because you are burying your natural energy. There are so many stories of men (& women) who have achieved it all, ticked every box, but internally they are struggling. It all comes down to being more in touch with who we really are, our truth is often very different to the life our mind tells us to chase.
So I am here to say we can still be manly but also emotional, we can be strong but still kind, we can be brave but still vulnerable, we can be a leader but still compassionate. We are human beings, emotions are natural & healthy, if we bury them we may conform to society’s norms, but we disconnect to our innate human instincts that are crucial for us to embrace if we want to feel alive. The road I am taking may not be conventional, I’m aware men aren’t really meant to bare all, but I’m willing to sacrifice being conventional to feel truly alive.