Has becoming a Man become an Unreachable Goal!!!

Struggling Man

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about what it means to be a Strong Man. As my 34th Birthday came and went, I find that the topic had not faded away, but instead become a bigger part of my consciousness. As it has been in the past, many of the thoughts I have are either addressed in other posts, or is the topic of discussion in Church.

What proceeds isn’t meant to chastise anyone, I’m hoping that this topic can be a prompt for a conversation; a conversation between men and the women in our lives. All I ask is that you keep an open mind, and hear what I say with a voice of Love. Thought it’s important to start with this disclaimer, didn’t want my words to spark anger or any kind of resentment!

A recent conversation with a friend reminded me that my struggle isn’t unique, as males we face constant pressure to be a Man (not quite sure what that even means). Although we face pressure to provide, to show strength but still be passive, to NEVER fail (failure is a sign of weakness). We are told these Stories that we eventually believe, and they become our mantras; but we’re never thought how to cope. I seem to be a bit of a tri-fecta unmarried, no children, and no substantive financial successes (money, nice car) to show for myself. But how has my manhood become about that? I’d like to point out that those things I listed aren’t everything, and although it’s not verbalized, EVERY man knows that he’s measured by those things.

Living with Bad Role Models!

Whether you’re religious or not there seems to be a scarcity of good role models. In the Media we see Athletes who are strong and great at their physical accomplishments, but we also hear of stories of infidelity or rampant divorce. In the movies we see the Man who can get multiple women in bed, idolized as “The Man” What about the stories about the many who’s a father, a husband, a lover, a friend, life long companion all wrapped up into one person? Why are those men not idolized? Even in the Biblical times, we read stories of Men like David, who was a great Leader, but who was also plagued with depression and feelings of inferiority.

Talking about problems is seen as a Weakness!

I saw a story about the recent recession and how families were dealing with it. One of the men made a statement that has stayed with me, he said “They would rather see me die trying to stay on my White Horse, than to see me fall” What he meant was that to maintain the facade of having it together, even though it’s obvious he doesn’t. He said that his wife and daughters don’t talk to him about the struggles he’s going through to to maintain the view that he has it together. The truth is we don’t have it together, we men face immense pressure to “Be a Man” We’re expected and in most cases required to be a provider, safety and security are our main priorities. I challenge you though, sure men don’t generally talk about their problems, but in many cases part of the problem is that others aren’t willing to have the conversation.

The R Word feels like the Kiss of Death!

Yes I’m talking about that “R” word, responsibility. While being able to provide and care for those around you with financial support is important. It has become the defacto response when not wanting to face fear. As Jim Carrey said To find peace you first have to let the Armour go and stop worrying about what will happen if people see you without your armor. I’d replace the “R” word, with the “V” word. No not that “V” word, I’m talking about vulnerability. We all have weaknesses, we all fall short, but the great thing about vulnerability, is that it frees us from fear. Without Fear we can have hope and faith instead. Fear keeps us in a state of inaction, it prevents us from moving and bettering ourselves. Faith and hope on the other hand are action oriented, they entice us to do better, to not take the status-quo as an acceptable pathway.

Keys to become an Agent of Change

Now that I’ve painted a picture of doom and bad role models, how can you possibly change. My Pastor Steve suggested a few specific things you could do, his were really great so there’s no need for me to invent something new.

Use your Strength for Good

Reject Passivity- As males we possess a kind of strength, and we should lead that way. When a problem arises don’t default our responsibility, don’t use “Ask your mom” or “I don’t do that kind of stuff, why don’t you plan that honey” We must be an active participant in decisions, the women around us are counting on us to make decisions, don’t become complacent. Now what I’m not saying is “I’m a man and I need to make all the decisions (while pounding my chest like a cave-man)” There’s a difference between compromising on a decision and making all the decisions. Compromise fosters harmony, and allows both people to have a stake in the decision making process.

Take Responsibility- Not the same one from earlier, but take responsibility for your actions, don’t blame others’ for what you do. Take full ownership of your action, and leave it up to others for theirs. Something I learnt this year I think is helpful here, “Always do my Best.” Each day I will do the best that I’m capable of, the caviat here is that if I can only do 50% then that’s what I’ll do, I won’t beat myself up for not being able to accomplish 150%.

Lead Courageously- We’re expected to lead our families, so lead with confidence and courage. If you feel you lack those skills then pray for them, and actively seek out opportunities to improve. For single person like myself, it doesn’t take a family to lead, and I can still lead in my everyday relationships, whether work, friendship, or others.

“A wise person hears the Truth, and adjusts his behavior to the truth. A foolish person hears the truth, and adjusts the truth to his behavior” – Unknown (well I hear my Pastor Steve say it on numerous occasions)

The Truth is constant, it shouldn’t change, therefore you should change to the truth rather than the other way around. For example, we know that smoking is bad for your health. A wise person will say, smoking is bad for my health and since I would like to live longer, I will have to stop smoking. In contrast a foolish person will say, well I don’t smoke that often, and I probably won’t get cancer for awhile anyway, so I’ll smoke till I die. Sorry smokers, it’s the first example I could think of, and there is Scientific evidence to back it up so it seemed a great illustration. As the truth becomes exposed to us, do we change our behavior to reflect the new truth, or do we find a way to maintain our current behavior, and model a truth that reflects our behavior. As we navigate our lives as males, which are we living, as a wise person or a foolish person?

As I stated in the beginning, this isn’t meant to chastise anyone, but it’s more about starting a conversation. As a man I face immense pressures to be a certain way, and while it may not be entirely true, I feel that women around me expect those things of me too. You may argue that it’s not true, that you do not expect those things from your men, but have you ever talked to them about it? If you ask what is a Man, whether it’s from a man or a woman, you’d probably get very similar answers. This pressure has lead to depression, suicide, and men are literally killing themselves to maintain this persona. I hope you use your words to build up and strengthen rather than tear down and humiliate, do it with and for Love. Men speak to the women in your life, let them see the real you, let them see what you’re actually struggling with. For the women, talk to your men, and be willing to get rid of the “Knight in Shining Armor” persona, I’m not saying that your guy isn’t going to save the day. But this is real life, no one rides a white horse, maybe a white Prius!

I’m only as small as my view of my Life!

Earth from Moon

I feel as though this part of my journey through my life has come with some set-backs. I’ve been stuck looking at my life based on the things I would like to accomplish, I understand that we all have a purpose, and each person has a different role to play. I even understand and know that I’m right where I need to be, I’m here in this place because I’m needed here. I also accept that I’m here because I have the right resources and support to get through it. I believe that my best days are ahead, and that there is something amazing waiting for me ahead. Despite all of those positive thoughts, it doesn’t stop the thoughts about the things I’ve not accomplished from creeping into my mind. I will continue to move forward, taking it one day at a time. I decided to write today because I wanted to share the mental turmoil I seem to be struggling with. How do I re-frame where I am so that I can have a more positive outlook?

Rather than looking at my life from the perspective that I’m not married, have children, or own a home; after all those are some of the most important measures of success! I wanted to re-frame my view of my life, to see myself from a new view. This past weekend just about every conversation I’ve had, or blog post, or article I’veMilky Way read seems to point to one idea, sometimes you need to change your perspective. I was sharing some of my thoughts with my brother earlier in the week, he thought I was crazy for thinking the way I was. The way he saw it was that I’ve moved to a new City, found work to keep me here for 9 years, made new friends, and have began to fully understand who I am. For him, those are things worth being proud of. I did explain that I didn’t think I was a complete failure, it’s just sometimes negative thoughts seem to outweigh all the positive ones. By re-framing how we both saw the same situation, that got me thinking, and of-course I kept seeing that same message through-out the weekend. The one that resonates the most with me is from a TV show I saw today, COSMOS. In this show they explored our universe, and how it came to be. In the opening episode they talked quite a bit about our planet in relation to it’s position in the known Universe, and on the time continuum. When our existence is measured against such a vast back drop, we seem quite small. One of the concepts they spoke about that really got me thinking was from a Roman Poet Lucretius Carus; he suggested what was a revolutionary thought for his time. The universe can be viewed as being infinite, or it’s only has big we can see. He suggests that what we see is a kind of a wall that our arrow hits, and if we were to climb over that wall, our arrow would be shot off into infinity, or into another wall; then the process repeats itself.

Perhaps I’m at that wall right now, so when I climb over it, I could either go on into infinity, or come to face another wall. By looking at where I am as a wall, instead of being blocked by it, why not climb over it and see what lies ahead. That got me thinking of how we perceive happiness, most people think that once they’re married, have kids, or own a home, they will be happy. The reality is that once you’ve gained those things, you find that you have another wall to climb and peer over. In life there’s never a point where you’ve reached a destination in happiness, then you never have to face unhappiness again. What life has thought us is that happiness is in each moment, and we have to work to maintain it. I’m not satisfied with my life right now, so I should work to getting that satisfaction. There will be days when things are great, and there will be days when I struggle. Instead of coming up to a wall and just giving up, I have to climb over it, and see what lies ahead. With each new discovery, a wonderful new undiscovered world lies ahead.

As I got away from negative thoughts and started thinking more positively, I noticed a subtle change. I didn’t feel tense, angry or frustrated. There was a calming uplifting feeling, my muscles were less tense, and I felt this amazing happy feeling from deep within. Thinking positively had a healthy relaxing feeling on me, I din’t feel stressed and tense anymore. So aside from seeming crazy and annoying to people because you’re happy and don’t let negative thoughts get you down, thinking positive seemed to have a healthy effect. I understand that this is not a revolutionary thought by any stretch of the imagination; but for me it’s an acceptance of it’s benefits for me. What about you, how can changing your perspective help in your life? Are you viewing where you are as just from our solar system, perhaps you should be thinking bigger, maybe you should be looking at it from the Galaxy point of view. How can changing your perspective bring positive, and calming feelings to your life?

Giving Thanks, Even for my Tribulations!


First of all I know you’re wondering why I’m taking time to write, when I could be getting full on food. I read in a post today to listen to your muse, don’t deny or stifle her. So thought I’d get these few word down and posted. As everyone is giving thanks for all the good things they have, it got me thinking. Aside for the good things, what else am I thankful for? What about my trials and disappointments, am I thankful for those too; after all they were great life lessons. It’s easy to look at good things and say, “yea I’m definitely thankful for those things.” I know in my life I’ve had bad things that happened, but that also changed me for the good afterwards; I’m thankful for those too. Although there are plenty of good things that I’m thankful for, I’m going to take time to reflect on things that weren’t exactly good, but had shaped me afterwards.

I grew up in a country that seemed worlds apart from where I am now, we always had food and shelter, but there were limitations. So why am I thankful for this? It’s taught me to be content with little, I don’t need big extravagant gifts and presents, something small and thoughtful goes a long way. My childhood has also though me to be goal oriented, and strive hard to make a better life for myself and generations after me. That tenacity has helped me through school, since education has always been a big part of my life; education represented a way to transcend your circumstances. I was also an only child for 13 years, that’s helped me to be ok with being in quiet spaces. Taking time to reflect and contemplating my past and future. I’ve always been a thinker, and those days sitting at the window and thinking of going to America, the place where apparently the streets were made of gold, helped shape who I am now. Of course now that I’m here, the streets aren’t made of gold, and you still have to work quite hard to get what you want.

For a long time I thought that not being married and having a family of my own, was a downfall. I think over the years I’ve matured and would make a much better husband and father. I’ve learnt to embrace who I am, and I’ve learnt so much about myself by just focusing on me. What’s so good about that you ask? People are complicated, relationships are even more complicated. Over the past few years relationships of mine have started and ended, and so have those of friends. For me although there were several reasons why those relationships ended, one of the constants were that we’re all figuring out ourselves. Adding another person to that equation made it more complicated than it needed to be. Of course we’re all familiar with the famous “you’re not the same person as when we first met.” Then there came that dreaded question, ‘Is this the right person for me, are they helping me to achieve the best me?’ Of course I now believe that those people who are no longer in our lives, were put there at that point to help us get to the next point. For that reason I don’t look at failed relationships as something negative, I see them as an opportunity to grow. Call me a romantic or idiot, I do believe that there is someone out there for me ‘The One’. Together we’ll help each other achieve the best us. I’ve come to believe that’s what a relationship should be about. A good loving relationship should be one where both people are benefiting equally, rather than one person getting more, or some other variance of that.

I’m thankful for my job, and no it’s not for the obvious reasons, like having money and security. I’m currently doing something that I thought I would enjoy; I’ve unfortunately learnt that I’m not passionate about it. Not being passionate about my job is effecting me more negatively than I thought it would; it’s effecting me much more than everything else. Yes I’m aware that plenty of people are doing things that they’re not passionate about. I’ve had other jobs in the past, where the pay wasn’t that good, I may not have liked my boss, or even liked the company. However I liked what I did, and that motivated me to go in day after day, be positive and do the best I can. That’s because I liked what I did, and that intrinsic motivation got me through, and kept me working 100% day after day. What’s so different now? As I’m learning more about myself I’ve learnt that although I like structure, I still what autonomy, I want to work and not have anyone looking over my shoulder. I like the people I work with, and there are a lot of great things about my company, but deep down I now I’m not passionate about what I’m doing. Sometimes I feel that without passion I can become my own enemy, or maybe I’m just over thinking it and I’ll be fine.

I’m thankful for these few examples because they represent parts of my life I thought I’d have a handle on my now, heck I’m approaching my mid 30’s and I’m still not married, have a great career, and own my own home. While those things are important, I’m learning that even with those things, I can still feel empty and lost inside. So despite not having those things I’m still happy with whom I’ve become, and I know that there is a purpose for me here. I’m learning that I’m where I’m needed, I’ve found that I’ve been available for others at just the right time, just when they really needed someone to talk to, or that encouraging word. Of course the one thread holding it all together is my faith. I’ve found my way back to god, or maybe I’ve realized that I’ve never actually lost him. There is much more to those examples that I’ve given, those are some of my low points that come to mind. I’ve learnt to have faith, and trust that I’ll continue to live day by day, and that I’ll always have the support I need. Maybe it’s a friend reaching out when I needed one, maybe it’s a random post on Facebook, or even an encouraging word. It all makes me feel that I’m loved and will always have the support of god, my family and friends.

So while everyone else is being thankful for all the good in their life, I’m taking time to reflect on things that seemed bad, but turned out to be a great life lesson. So what about you, what have you learnt from your trials and challenges. It’s easy to be thankful for good situations, but what challenging situation can you be thankful for today.

Is Happiness Out of my Reach?


On the drive home today my thoughts were wandering, and I found myself thinking, what am I doing here? Why can’t I be happy with my job? Am I ever going to find a job that makes me happy? I’m sure reading this you’re thinking “everyone is unhappy with their job in some form” No one is completely happy with their job! To understand why happiness matters to me, perhaps it’s good to know a bit more about me. I consider myself a dreamer, no not daydreaming, but rather I’ve always had a vision of my future in my head. So far I feel as though I’ve been going down alternate paths for quite some time now.

In order to function, I must me internally motivated to do my job. Money, fame, prestige doesn’t matter to me that much. The sheer joy you get from doing something you love, that’s what gets me going each day. After my Military career I decided that there was something else out there for me, I didn’t know what it was, but I was willing to take the risk to go find out. This past year has been really great. After graduating college last year, I felt that I was finally on the right path; that happiness was right around the corner. Aside from knowing that I’m intrinsically motivated, I learnt that I like being in-front of people; which is interesting since I consider myself a bit reserved and introverted. I also found out that I like helping people; I find great satisfaction helping others on their life journey. Additionally I’ve connected spiritually to God and those around me; I know everyone has their belief system, and that’s ok; this is the one I believe in.

While I’ve made so much progress spiritually and in my personal life, I feel my work life is a few miles behind the progress I’ve made in other areas. I keep telling myself to just hang in there; my joy is just around the corner. But each day it’s a struggle, waking up and going to a job I know isn’t exactly what my spirit longs for. I’ve thought about it, I’ve prayed about it, I’ve seen signs telling me what to do. But I have to admit, I’m not quite ready to take that leap of faith. I’m not ready to jump, and then wait to see where I land. My hearth is telling me I should be bold, I should jump, and that it will be ok. I have to admit the fear of not knowing what comes next is paralyzing me, I don’t know if I’ll find another job, let alone one that makes me happy. It’s kind of funny though, I’ve been telling others around be to be bold, be vulnerable, to listen to their hearths. Here I am not taking my own advice. Perhaps just getting the thought out there is a good step. Who knows who will read this, and where it will take me. I want to be able to wake up and be happy about where I’m going, then at the end of the day be happy about where I’ve been. Am I asking for too much, or is life just supposed to be like this; I refuse to believe that. I’m not the type of person who settles for the usual, or even believes “well that’s just the way life is”. I believe life is what I make of it. Now for the hard part, getting up and making my own path. Wish me luck, I know that I’m destined for something greater, that’s what I choose to believe.