What does it mean to be a man? Such a small, straight-forward question could not be more complex to answer and is often a source of strife, worry, and stress for many men in our society. The binary dichotomy of man and woman, which has long dominated our culture, has partitioned the identity of a man into rigidly prescribed roles and expectations. To name a few, a man is supposed to be strong, the caretaker/provider, void of most feelings (with the exception often being anger), successful, and masculine. A man should walk a certain way, talk a certain way, and enjoy certain things. Any deviation from these expectations can call into question one’s identity of being a man thereby threatening a key aspect of how a man thinks of and views himself. Despite the privileges that men have in our culture, the freedom to exist, explore, and define an identity of one’s own is often stifled in the face of powerful, yet fundamentally baseless, boundaries.

Beyond the construct of gender exists within all people the need and drive to become a fully-realized human being. This journey towards the discovery of one’s True Self varies from person to person as each individual delves deeper into the multitudinous layers of their identity. Through the experience of going inward and knowing oneself as deeply as possible, desires, interests, and talents become known. This can allow a person to live into an identity that is solid and unshakeable to fragile societal conventions and expectations as these discoveries stem from the bedrock of one’s True Self.

In the quest to be a man and become a man, looking outward to societal expectations and prescribed roles suffocates the true man inside needing to be awakened. The dichotomy of gender and the expectations it carries are handcuffs with one hand being ‘man’ and the other hand being ‘woman’. Freeing ourselves from these shackles offers the opportunity to really know who we are. You may discover wonderful things you never knew about yourself. And, so importantly, living into the inward—rather than outward—experience can liberate you from the shame and finite existence of what we are told a man should be.

Being a man is so much more than what you look like, how you act, and what you do. I’ve included below a poem that so accurately speaks to a deeper experience of what it means to be a man. If you are interested in discovering your True Self and becoming a fuller version of the man you are now, I encourage you to reach out and learn more.

Thanks for reading!

– Dr. Dan

If  by: Rudyard Kipling

1. If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

3. If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

2. If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

4. If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!