What does it mean to “be a man”? With the idea of gender equality prevalent nowadays, still, there are young men in several countries, including the US, the UK, and Mexico, who admit to laboring under the pressure their sex entails. They believe they are obliged to be strong in order to fulfil social status. This lifestyle that they don’t really want to embrace affects them adversely, both physically and psychologically.
Men feel pressurized to live up to the appearance expected of them, the pressure which causes them to increasingly use cosmetic surgery, resort to steroids. The requirements they believe are established to their looks by fashion and body ideals are many, running from wearing hairdos and trendy clothes to taking care of their skin.
A lot of men find burdensome and insidious the following factors that social standards set before them:
Success: men ought to be quick risers upon a career ladder so that they can draw a substantial salary which will enable them to have a good family budget. Men are regarded as money earners.
Self-confidence: men are often looked upon as pillars of confidence, able to take up and maintain control in any kind of situation with perfect assurance.
Sexual potency: from a certain age men are expected to be sexually able and experienced, virile and even ever-ready for a sexual adventure.
Athletic potency: boys and adult males alike ought to go in for sports, demonstrate their strength and physical prowess that are strongly associated with masculinity.
Strength: males are invariably considered to possess impressive physical strength, making them want to be fit and muscular. They should always be in and out of gyms, working out, lifting weights, and growing more muscle.
Emotional reserve: the cooler a man is, the more masculine he is seen; men’s emotions should always be controlled, without outward display of weakness or susceptibility which are definitely not male qualities.
Independence: regarded as masculine, guys live under the expectation to be independent, fully equipped to deal with their issues, and self-sufficient, not waiting for help from others.
Superior knowledge: a man should be able to demonstrate his knowledgeability in whatever sphere comes up – in what happens in the world around and in his city, in technology and appliances; show that he is extremely intelligent every time.
DIY skills: every guy is expected to be proficient at doing things at home: small repairs, fixing and installing things. He can handle every tool there is, knows what improvements can be made to the house and patio, and can perform them practically singlehandedly.
Not all guys feel pressure to conform to these expectations and that there is no one “correct” way to be a man. Males and females alike perceive differently the necessity to bow to relevant social images. Men and women alike have to consider their appearance, successfulness, and how exactly they can and want to observe their gender expectations.
How can a man remain resilient and healthy in the face of such social and gender pressure? Some of the ways are listed below.
Recognize and challenge unrealistic expectations
The first thing is to understand that the claims society lays on you are not necessarily realistic and may be rather damaging. So it’s all right to challenge them when it is worth your while. As you keep challenging them, you will find your own qualities that make a man and reinvent the traditional outlook.
Most people are apt to blame themselves for not playing along with social standards; if they begin to practice self-compassion, it will help them with their self-esteem and the way other people perceive them.
Surround yourself with supportive people
If you can boast of a good number of your relatives and friends who are always ready to support you and validate your position, you have a great opportunity to expand on your concerns. At the same time, those who are ever ready with derogatory remarks can be regarded as toxic. When socializing with such individuals, you have to establish your personal boundaries and maintain them. Then again, you can keep distance from them or let them know that some conversational topics are off-limits. Your controlling the situation will increase your self-esteem.
Watch over your health in the first place
Pressure is apt to result in anxiety that, in its turn, can cause health issues. If you see to it that you are healthy and fit it can help you keep away from the worst consequences. Take good care of yourself, consult specialists when you feel it necessary, make sure you workout regularly, have enough sleep and eat good food.
Learn to deal with negative beliefs
Those who allow themselves to be overwhelmed by negative thoughts have reality slip away. If you are besieged by negative thoughts try and reword them in an attempt to discover positive factors of the given situation. Remembering your strong points and past successes can rebuild your robust attitude and avoid getting into the trap of making yourself perfect.
As already mentioned, there is no one “right” way to be a man, and the interests and choices that may be traditionally associated with women, such as cooking, cleaning, or being a stay-at-home dad, are just as valid and valuable. Embrace your individuality and pursue your passions regardless of societal expectations! It will make you happier and more fulfilled.