While I was driving today, a commercial came on the radio that made me stop and think. It was a commercial for a male supplement that was supposed to increase testosterone levels. It started by saying something to the effect of, “Men aren’t men anymore. We’ve gotten soft and timid. It’s time we get our manhood back!” Then it went on to talk about how taking these supplements will boost testosterone, enhancing performance in the gym and in the bedroom. It’ll aid in muscle growth and boost overall energy. It went on to say, “If the results are TOO intense, reduce your dosage.” I don’t remember what the actual supplement, or whatever they were selling, was called. And if I’m honest, I don’t even care. I wouldn’t even mention them if I did remember. Nobody needs this nonsense.
At first, I thought it was hilarious because of how ridiculous it all was. But then, as I glanced over to the passenger seat at my 13-year-old little brother, taking it all in, I got a little sad. I got sad because I realized that some guys actually believe this crap. And I think our society at large believes this to a certain extent. They believe that the manhood is measured by how big our muscles are, how good we are in bed, how intense our workouts are, etc.
So I turned down the radio and explained to my little brother that manhood is not about all of that. Manhood is about how you treat others. It’s about how you treat women. It’s about how you lead your life. It has nothing to do with how you look or how you perform (in bed, on the field, at the gym, etc). I’ve seen too many boys and too many men plagued with insecurities because they don’t fit the stereotype of what others expect men to be. They’re not the athletic type. They don’t spend their weekends watching football and drinking beer. They don’t spend their Friday nights looking for the next hookup, and they have no interest in partaking in this hookup culture that’s become so normal. They don’t spend hours at the gym to get “jacked” and don’t know how much they can bench or squat. They don’t fit society’s definition of a man, but it doesn’t make them any less of one. This isn’t to say that guys that do watch sports, drink beer, go to the gym, etc. aren’t “real” men. It’s just that those things aren’t what make them men.
Treat others well. Respect and honor women. Sacrifice for the people you love. Fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. Stand up for justice. Lead your life well. Have goals. Short term and long term. Know when to ask for help. Be ready and willing to be that help for others. Be a man of your word. Believe in something bigger than yourself. Be humble. Be honest. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Keep your integrity. Work hard. Keep learning.
I’m tired of the stereotype. I’m tired of men walking around thinking they’re less than because they don’t fit the stereotype. And I’m tired of men trying so hard to fit the stereotype that they lose themselves in the midst of their pursuit of it.
I’ve quoted this many times but I’ll quote it again:
“Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.” —St. Francis de Sales.