Becoming a man is a right of passage that every male or self-identified male must go through. The journey from child to man is a high mountain to climb, and not everyone makes it. In recent years, the ability to be unapologetically masculine has been under criticism, but attitudes are slowly changing for the better. Just like the dignified importance that women have in all roles of society, the strength of men is criticized and vilified at society’s peril.
However, these post-modern ideas of the masculine being ‘undesirable’ are slowly fading, and it falls to us men to stand as a testament to the promise and purpose of males everywhere. Unfortunately, levels of mental illness and suicide rates are higher in the younger male population. It would be wrong to pinpoint this to one reason, and it would be reprehensible to blame it on a societal peril instead of taking a nuanced view that incorporates societal norms, economic factors, medical issues and a lack of purpose.
The modern young man going through his right of passage must adhere to a set of moral and grounded principles to help them best achieve a strong, satisfactory life filled to the brim with integrity. The more young men turn out this way, the stronger society will be as a whole, and the fairer society will be.
We would like to preface this article by clearly stating that this piece is not meant as a political or social commentary, least of all an opinion, but simply an exploration of what it means to be a great man in the 21st century.
There are many productive discussions being had about gender inequality and where that line falls between the masculine-feminine divide, as well as those who self-identify a different gender from the one they were born with. This article is merely an exploration of how the young, disaffected male can regain his mojo, and continue on a path to becoming a strong figure that ultimately benefits his society, family, and self.
It’s a great mistake for any young man to forgo a challenging activity. In the modern age of comfort, video games, television and other endless forms of entertainment help us live fantasy lives through escapism in which we can feel what it means to be endlessly powerful and adventurous. The truth is, life is difficult, and the simple act of being a person can be a challenge in itself. However, you never become happier having a lighter load, you become happier by having broader shoulders to carry a heavier load.
The worst thing a modern young male on the cusp of adulthood could do is to avoid challenges. What’s interesting is that the challenge you choose doesn’t matter. It could be painting, weightlifting, martial arts, studying to pass your law exam and get accredited or to run a marathon by the age of 22.
To keep yourself strong and able, you need to have a goal to work towards. It anchors you in the moment and helps you schedule your life. Become obsessed with this goal, and the mere effort of struggling in pursuit of a higher aim will allow you to become a better person in a myriad of ways. When a life difficulty presents itself unexpectedly, you’ll be so well versed with self-discipline and adversity that you’ll be able to tackle the problem in a strong and stable way.
Orienting yourself in the world isn’t easy, but it can be done. In fact, it’s one of the most important things you can do as a young man. Spend a week crafting a ‘life review,’ where you write the goals you’d like to achieve in 1, 3, 5, and 10 years. They don’t need to be perfect, just general guidelines of who you’d like to be and how you’d like to do it. The act of writing this down will have narratively solidify it in your mind, and also give you a real visualization of the benefits that could occur if you lived that way.
Next, write some short term goals. See where you could be in the next few months if you exercised a little self-discipline and made it through the weary days. Now that will be a game worth playing. If you don’t do this, you’ll feel listless, aimless and lethargic, and that’s one of the world ways for a modern man to feel.
It is the best time of your life to party, and you definitely should, but you should also focus on what you’d like to achieve. You will never feel as energetic as you do at this stage of your life, so it’s important you cut out the unnecessary trash habits from your life. These include excess drinking, bad diets, drug usage, cutting pornography usage, anything that keeps you from living a real life, one in touch with your emotions and goals. A satisfactory, energetic life is usually achieved through healthy living. Give yourself the best leg up possible during your right of passage.
Young males NEED to exercise. This is not a suggestion. It is a warm, strongly recommended prescription. If you don’t exercise, your energy levels will be terrible, and you won’t have the mental energy to apply to the various tasks in your life. Set up positive habits now while you still can, and you’ll find that life will be much easier to enjoy.
As a man, you begin to build a reputation for yourself as soon as you enter the world of work. Your word is your bond, and you break it at your peril. You should also try and act truthfully, and speak the truth that you know. This is often superior, as long as you’re smart about it, to telling white lies. This is because a truthful person never has to remember the lies he has told in order to maintain them. This will have a direct impact on your integrity and ability to honestly connect with other people. This might seem like a superfluous value that’s easy to bend during discourse with new people, but you truly mess with it at your own risk. Your self-respect resides with it, and you could even consider it a ‘spiritual’ (for lack of a more appropriate term,) quality for a man to have. It is simply that important.
Life is not easy, and societal problems are never obviously solvable. However, with more strong men in the world, working and raising their children with the same values, society will have the inner moral code to at least address those issues with a sense of fairness. Sometimes, that’s the best you can hope for.