Men are bombarded with messages telling them what it means to be a real man on a daily basis. ‘Real men’ are strong, feel no pain and never shed a tear. That appears to be the general consensus across social media and the advertising world. But then there are the counter messages promoting sensitivity and non-toxic self-confidence. So what does it mean to be a ‘real man’?
It’s easy to feel pressured to act a certain way, but real manhood is neither about muscle power nor the mustache. A real man is one who is himself.
It’s all about confidence
What does it mean to be self-confident? According to research, a lack of self-esteem is often associated with a disregard of one’s own abilities and motivations. People may also lack confidence if they’ve been repeatedly told that they are bad at something. But when we begin to disrupt these patterns of negativity, we can find the strength to discover what it is that makes us uniquely us.
If you lack confidence, try to surround yourself with the people who appreciate you and bring out the best in you. It’s important to be with those who care and who listen. Believe in yourself.
But don’t let that confidence turn you into an arrogant fool either. A healthy dose of self-esteem is beneficial, but too much and you’ll walk the fine line toward arrogance and narcissism. Understand and appreciate your weaknesses. If you embrace them, they’re an excellent way to learn new skills.
Cultivate your interests
Not sure who you are? Don’t worry. Not many of us have reached that level of enlightenment in our lives and many of us never will. But that doesn’t mean you can’t focus on developing interests and fostering the things you enjoy doing the most. Once you’ve stumbled upon your new hobbies – playing guitar, star-gazing or reading comics – begin to share them with your friends or groups of like-minded people. You’re not alone. In a world of over seven billion people, there are plenty of people who like to do similar things and finding them is easy thanks to the Internet. By cultivating a rich personal life, you may begin to develop a sense of yourself.
It’s easy to put on a face or play a role when speaking to others, but pretending isn’t always the best option. It’s best to be yourself. After all, you want people to like you for who you really are not some ‘false’ version of you.
There’s no right way to be a ‘real man’
There really is no such thing as a ‘real man’ or the right way to become one. Instead, focus on being ‘you’ and embrace yourself.
- Bénabou, Roland and Tirole, Jean, Self Confidence: Intrapersonal Strategies (February 2000). Woodrow Wilson School Working Paper No. 209.