What Growing Up As A Boy Is Like (1: The Stoic Mask)
I’m trying a new experiment: in order to extract the most value I can from reading, I’m writing a blog on each chapter I read to summarize the main points and see how I can relate them to my life. This week’s book is: The Mask of Masculinity by Lewis Howes.
“Stop being such a pussy.”
I’d be lying if I said I never said any of these things before.
Men are told to be strong at all times. To bottle up their emotions. To “suck it up” and power through life’s hardest trials without complaining, because that’s what a “real man” would do.
And I wanted to be that guy.
I didn’t know there were other options growing up in high school and college. For me, it was either be a “pussy” or be a “man”.
We live in a world where men are told to be more open and more vulnerable to show who they are — but also to NOT OVERSHARE. Because that’s just too much feelings for a dude.
We get negative feedback when we share, and so it scares us from ever doing it again. Think of the girlfriend who says “I just wish he’d open up more to me”, and as soon as he gets a little too emotional, the girl essentially says “nevermind, you need to be strong for me”. Think of the guy who wants to talk about his struggles, but is afraid of being too emotional around his guy friends for fear of being made fun of.
Is it a surprise that so many men put on this stoic mask and bottle up their emotions inside until they have to release it in sometimes violent ways?
Now, there is something to be admired of the strength it takes to subside your fears and be strong in the face of adversity. But that has to be coupled with a balance of knowing when to take that mask off.
Women often have groups to share their pains, emotions, and struggles.
But what do guys have? Not much.
So what can we do to help men stop bottling up their feelings?
- Men: make a list of your 5 most painful experiences and write about it. Share them with someone who you are or want to feel more connected with.
- Women: don’t blame men for having this mask -- support them and accept them when they do feel they trust you enough to be so vulnerable.