Defining Manhood

This is a guest post from John of Fearless Men. He’s young, hip and cool. Check out this personal take on becoming a man. 

“You’re not a man!” were the words ringing through my ears. These words stung because they came from a girl I liked. I was 18 years old at the time without a clue of what being a man really meant. She hadn’t a clue either. But that didn’t matter because her words pierced my soul.

She was the judge of my manliness and I just failed the test.

Some might hear these words “You’re not a man!” from their father, mother, sibling, teacher or friend. Sometimes it has no effect. Actually, most of the time you can probably laugh it off and forget about it. But all it takes is one moment where it gets to you and you’re then left soul searching. I believe each man deep down is constantly wondering where they stand. It’s unfortunate that many compare cars, jobs and education when it’s responsibility, virtue and character that really matters.

“Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.” ~George Washington

As I grew into my 20’s I started to realize that my manhood was becoming more important. It played a bigger role in my career, relationships, friendships and overall success. So while I knew I was responsible for who I became I still couldn’t define manhood and didn’t know which corner to turn.

I was frustrated with my weak character. I’d try to stand strong but would eventually give in to addictions or weaknesses.

“After a certain age every man is responsible for his face” ~Albert Camus

A good friend of mine once wrote this about manhood, “Manhood is not a guarantee. Becoming a man is not a right, it’s a choice. Or better yet, it’s a process. We don’t wake up one morning as a young teenage boy and enter into manhood just because we found a few stray hairs in unusual places.

Manhood is something you choose to pursue

Manhood is not achieved through sleeping with women, graduating high school, finding a job, drinking beer, or killing animals.

Manhood is not something that we achieve, but something we choose to pursue. And that pursuit starts with assuming responsibility.

I started to look outside of movies and sports icon for a male mentor. I didn’t really have a father figure in my life so in a way I was looking for that too. I knew that I needed to be responsible for my life, for my relationships, my career, my friendships, my actions and my future.

It’s important to know that the answer doesn’t come quick by reading one book, one article, one discussion or in one day. Taking responsibility by the horns and accepting that manhood will be a life learning journey is the first step.

How I learnt to become a man

Throughout my 20’s mentors would enter my life and I’d learn different areas of responsibility from them.

In the Army my Sergeant took control of his training, education and finances. I observed and learned from him.

In school I observed the ones really getting an education.

In corporate America I watched those who succeeded and had personal integrity.

I watch fathers and family men who you can tell without a doubt that their home is one of love and strong foundation.

And I’m going to pass it down to you now.

• Accept Responsibility for your Life

It’s so easy to place the blame for anything and everything on our parents, siblings, schools and life influences. In the end though, we’re responsible for who we become. So take responsibility today, and never lay blame.

• Commit to changing

Changing won’t be easy. Habits aren’t formed in a day and it would be unreasonable to expect instant change. My brother once said when frustrated that he believed if he set his mind to it he could change overnight. I encouraged him that he’s only human and we make mistakes. But we can always get back up and stick to the commitment.

• Let others help you

Don’t try to do it on your own. Your family and friends are there to support you. If you’re trying to make a change for the better most likely they’re already aware of the weakness. They will bleed with you if necessary. Let them know you’re making a commitment and ask them to help you stay accountable. When in the trenches it’s tough to see the progress. Let them encourage you by letting you know how much progress you’ve made.

[It’s really okay to get help from others. Don’t let pride stand in the way. Pride is lame sometimes. -Alden]

• Never Give Up

It’s going to be tough. You’ll get knocked down and feel like giving up. You’ll be tempted to say, “Well, at least I tried.” But that isn’t enough. You must keep persevering.

Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and his first business failed. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, after 1000+ failed attempts.Winston Churchill failed 6th grade and went on to lead England against Hitler in WWII.
Enough said!

They were all great men. Need I say more?

• Get a Mentor

I can’t encourage this enough. Mentors are someone who’s gone through what you’re going through now and will offer practical advice that you can use. They most likely won’t tell you what to do step by step but will help teach you character traits that last a life time and are a good foundation to build off of. A mentor doesn’t have to be a family member or friend. It can be someone from work, school or in the neighborhood. It can be an author whose book you read.

• Create realistic goals

You won’t change overnight. If you make a decision to be responsible then start with something achievable. One of my first challenges was being financially responsible. It started with learning how to budget and being responsible to keep that budget. In the years to follow, and some of you might relate, I committed to being responsible for my fitness, studies, becoming a better student and worker.

Let me end of this post with a quote from the great Martin Luther King.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. ~Martin Luther King.

That means to say, becoming a man wouldn’t be that easy. It’s going to be tough. But it’s through toughness you’ll rise up and succeed.

Fearless Men is an up and coming blog on modern manliness. If you’re a dude  want to man up your life in real, meaningful ways, check out their blog right now. They also have a new free eBook up for download. Grab it while it’s hot! 

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  1. Todd @ Fearless Men - January 24, 2013 7:35 am

    Alden just noticed you reskinned the site, looks awesome!! Well done. Thank you for carrying this post too!

    • alden - January 25, 2013 5:21 pm

      Thanks Todd! No prob. Gonna hit you guys up with a guest post soon!

  2. Pingback: Fearless Men's Weekly Rd-Up | Article on #Manhood and $1K #Giveaway

  3. John - January 25, 2013 6:46 pm

    Alden, it was awesome writing for your site. I like the “Revival” theme too! Looking forward to your guest post. Enjoy the weekend!!!

  4. Rob Leonardo - January 27, 2013 10:09 am

    I like this topic that is seldom talked about. As a matter of fact, I am writing about a similar topic that I find hard to continue!

    The most difficult passage a man has to go through is the ‘mentoring’ part which many of us miss while growing up. We find mentors in the person of our fathers, brothers or friends.

    Unfortunately, society taught us that ‘intimacy’ with fellow males is a no-no. And wait- before you judge- intimacy is not about sexual relations! It is about being able to connect with someone in a deep way and sometimes includes the physical closeness such as brotherly hug.

    For me, manhood is a about the real masculinity- character, responsibility and integrity. The roughness that comes with it is a bonus (and not necessary). 🙂

    • alden - January 28, 2013 7:51 am

      That’s awesome Rob!

      I know what you mean. I think a mentor is the best way to grow up, to have someone to look out for you and make sure you get it right.

      Yet, the misguided notion of “toughness” is skewed by the media and all that crap.

      Guys think it’s all about violence and looking cool externally.

      I’m all for portraying a form of manliness myself, but sometimes you just got to balance out the inside. Otherwise… well, you may end up repressing yourself which isn’t going to be good in the long run.

    • John @ Fearless Men - January 30, 2013 9:32 pm

      Rob, you bring up an important and often missed point about intimacy. I couldn’t agree more with your statement – “For me, manhood is a about the real masculinity- character, responsibility and integrity. The roughness that comes with it is a bonus (and not necessary).”

      Unfortunately most pursue the roughness first and see the rest as a bonus. Looking forward to your writing on this. Let us know when it’s complete and we’ll spread the word.


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