I’m a guy’s guy. A Modern Man’s – Man. Rough around the edges, not afraid to get dirty, a fan of grit, and hard work. I am proud of being a man. I love the hunter/provider wiring. I’m amazed at the strength of the male body. I can deadlift close to 500 pounds and I think it’s pretty awesome that if somebody’s life depended on it I could lift something really heavy off of them to save them. (Weird flex, I know.) I’ve always been part of a large network of male friends and over the years through our bust-your-chops banter, it’s evident that we grew up with certain conditioning of what it means to be a man. The things we should and shouldn’t do, how we should or should not be.
I remember learning about the Titanic in class, and the teacher explaining how it was the women and children first, and then every man for himself. I’ll never forget a classmate asking the teacher, “why?”. Even at a young age, you could sense the discomfort in the classroom. I can’t remember the teacher’s reply, probably because she, in a roundabout way, answered something that translated to “that’s just the way it is”. Young men raised with lessons like this make it no surprise that we devalue our health. “As long as everyone else is ok, then I’m fine”.
I’m aware of how laser-focused I can be on one thing, at the risk of ignoring other equally important things. I am proud of our ability to put ourselves second or third behind our spouses and children. And yes, I would die for them. Not by default because I’m the male and I “have to”, but because that is what I have chosen as my main priority.
Thanks to modernization and the gradual breaking down of the old Man’s Man construct, we can allow ourselves to offload some of the pressures that come with being a man. To do this, we must reframe the expectations of what it means to be a man. Doing so can enhance our overall health. The Modern Man’s Man goes to the doctor and takes care of his mental health. But being aware and making regular visits are not enough. We have to keep working to show up for our life in a bigger, stronger, and better way. And show up for the long run. Viewing our health awareness and maintenance as a strategy to be THAT much better at what we are already doing.
We are always a work-in-progress. Feeling sick is not a flaw. Admitting to injury is not a weakness. However, skipping your yearly checkups makes you weak. Not being open about anxiety and depression will make you weak, no matter how strong you think you appear to those around you. In a world with so much transparency – men are no exception. There are some aspects of our health that require professional attention. Sure, I’m a fan of the shake it off/walk it off mentality, but we have to be honest with ourselves and be open about the things that can’t be ignored. Also, constantly working on ourselves is a great opportunity to lead by example, which will benefit the younger generation of males.
One thing is for certain for me – the day that I’m no longer here, I don’t want it to be because I didn’t take care of myself. I don’t want to be remembered as someone who was always sad, grumpy, or unhappy. I appreciate there are months dedicated to different health topics. I think it’s a great way to raise awareness and I’m on board, as long as there is an understanding that everything applies to the remaining 11 months of the year. Men: don’t devalue your emotional or physical health, regardless of what society tells you. Stick around for a while.