When you grow up in this world, there’s no real guidebook that handles the subject of how to be a man. Of course, we have role models who teach us some important lessons, but most of the lessons we learn don’t actually come from them.
We have some people that we look up to and we, in our early years, emulate them because we seem to like the way they act and how others act around them. But there’s no connection to this idea of how to be a man or what that would even begin to look like if you tried.
For the past 5 years, I’ve been writing like all hell.
At the beginning, before words ever hit the internet, there I was with Moleskin journals scribbling away whatever wanted to come out. What came out in those journals was nothing short of chaos. They were blacker than black times and the words dripped of pain.
So bad, was the content in these journals, that I knew I could never let them fall into anyones hands on accident in fear of what they might think. So i burned them on a BBQ one day with a friend of mine who I trusted enough to rip those pages out one by one. She wanted to read a few pages, but I couldn’t let her. They needed to be burned…and so I watched a year plus of work turn to ashes in front of my eyes and that was the story before this story began.
Those cursive filled pages did teach me a few things about myself though. I understood, from what poured out, that there was a depth there that I didn’t ever really understand…and that under everything there was a whole lot of pain and suffering that needed to be taken care of.
Those pages also started to cement a love for writing despite the fact that I had been brutally criticized by English teachers throughout the years for not being able to connect small details with the big picture. Every essay bled in the comments section, so I traded in their criticism for my own red ink from my bleeding heart.
Over the years I’ve transformed as a person and it’s not because I became obsessed with the quantum leap of change. Sure I indulged in New Years Resolutions a few times, but it’s been years since I’ve actually created those for myself. I opted in for daily expressions of myself which seemed to really have worked out in the long run, and watched myself transform as the years have gone by.
But then again, there’s that question of what really makes a man?
Years upon years upon years of writing actually didn’t answer that question for me outright…I’ve really had to take the past day to think about this question. What does make a man? What does that even really mean to me…the author of something called The Better Man Project? I mean out of all people should I freaking know?
I’ve been asked similar questions a few times, but never really had much time to sit down with it and think…if I had to put it in a few sentences…of what my answer would really be.
Maybe I won’t be able to bring a direct answer to you outright tonight, but I can tell you a few things that are on my mind right now. Maybe they are more important lessons than any type of definition in of itself, but nonetheless, I’m going to give this a shot.
My life has been one mistake after the next…after the next…after the next. And that, right there, is why I’ve been able to travel down this path for such a long time, writing almost day after day and continuing on.
Because I correct my mistakes.
What makes a man? Humbling accepting the fact that he creates through love, out of his deepest purpose, for something far bigger than himself and gives everything he has to the world. He will make mistakes, correct them, and for that…be a common champion for the people because he places the inevitable fact of his imperfections in plain sight for the world to see.
Daily, I learn little things about myself that I didn’t know the day before. I also learn very large lessons about what is good for me and what is not. Sometimes I hold onto things for a little too long because I’m afraid I won’t have bigger and better things come along. But I also end up letting go. And the truth of it is, I’m always surprised by what comes up next in my life when I do.
I believe that I am in incredibly good hands.
Whether that’s with the people around me who love me, my friends, my family, my relationships…the core inner circle of those in my life…or whether it’s my relationship with the heavens above…I feel carried right now.
Not that I am not making my own decisions and forging a path through a place that has never been traveled into before…but I feel deeply supported in a way that I could never truly put into words. I know that I’m being watched over in one way or another and there have been some serious moments where I’ve had these eyes come quick to have my back. Never had that in my life before – now it exists. Funny how that works.
I remember the first few months of writing in this blog the looks and questions people asked me about why in the world I would do something like this…throw the criticisms in there as well and you have a full picture of what the starting line looked like.
People looked at me like I was nuts. You mean to tell me you’re going to throw out the intimate details of your life for everyone to read? “Make sure you don’t give away too much…you shouldn’t say that…don’t do that…” Those voices echoed at the beginning.
But I carried on and now there’s over 100,000 people who are interested in something I have to say – which absolutely blows my mind. Sometimes I wonder how big a ripple I can make…and honestly, over the next month plus…I’m really about to figure that out.
Resilience is coming to mind.
The ability to bounce back from any situation that has come upon you and to continue moving forward even if you feel weak. For me, without this innate resilience – probably from my tough as nails family – I would have suffered even more during some of the trials and tribulations of my life. But, in time, I always pick myself up, dust myself off, and forge ahead.
Taken advantage of.
List goes on…doesn’t matter. I’m continuing on. And as I wrote that, I witnessed this flush of “standing up for yourself” come up as well. You see, if you stand for nothing in this world, well, then you are subject to everything happening to you. You really do welcome all sorts of terrible things into your life because you have no backbone. But something that makes a man is being able to actually say no…and to say it with a full heart.
No, that’s not what I want in this life.
But you have to first know what is true in you. You have to know what you deeply desire and be willing to take a stand for it. Yes, you may lose things because of that, but there’s always a plan for you that you cannot see.
There’s always something that is going to pan out just the way it is supposed to. Honestly, as bad as it may hurt sometimes, you’re actually unconsciously making room for the incredible things that are about to happen. That’s the way I’ve always looked at it, with a positive mind, and it’s no real surprise to me that positive things continue to happen out of shitty situations.
That’s not luck.
That’s just called faith.
Faith is knowing that despite the absolute hell you are going through, you will rise again and you will be far better than you’ve ever been in your life. If you don’t really believe that, you will settle for anything and everything that is only mediocre in your mind…that will be a serious current throughout your entire life. You will be mediocre at your job, in your relationships, in your sports, in your passions. You won’t put forth the effort you truly need to…to be able to achieve your dreams once and for all.
No, you have to step up. You have to take a stand for something greater than your own selfish concerns. It must be greater than you.
A real man…a good man…leads with his heart, never forgets his head, stands for the dreams of others, screws up constantly and corrects his mistakes…and above all, loves the hell out of everything and everyone.
– Evan Sanders