You wonder: “Am I Masculine?”
My problem is simple. I want to be more masculine. This question may sound silly, but I’m just being real with you. A friend of mine recently told me I come off as effeminate and it freaked me out. Not that it matters but I’m straight, single and 29. Any advice here – I didn’t know where else to turn.
-Chris in Wisconsin
You have touched on an issue that many consider to be taboo. Specifically, I’m talking about how people view themselves through the lens of gender. It’s a hot button issue, and one that I think doesn’t get nearly enough attention.
I’m going to try and answer your question here as best as possible, although I want to state from the outset that this is a complicated issue.
The hard truth is constructs of masculinity and femininity are subjective in nature. In other words, the experience of what someone sees as “manly” is subject to what the perceiver believes. And it goes without saying that culture and geography largely inform those belief systems.
For example, what folks see as rugged may differ greatly in Oklahoma versus New York. Conversely, what some see as effeminate may look different in Michigan versus Washington.
In addition to the above, there’s also the problem of hyper-masculinity; a ten-dollar term used to describe the exaggeration of stereotypical male behaviors. Sadly, this toxic influence has begun to permeate some aspects of society in recent years and created false constructs about what it means to be a man.
I’m sharing all of this with you as background information in the lead up to providing an answer to your question: How can I be more masculine?
Be confident in yourself.
That “friend” of yours who suggested you are effeminate did you no favors. I say this because he (unintentionally) did great damage to your self-esteem.
By making you question yourself, he undermined your ability to be who you are. Why he did it really isn’t important. It’s what he said that had an impact on your psyche.
Being masculine has jack to do with having a deep voice, wearing flannels sporting a beard or having a bunch of tats. It also has zippo to do with sexual orientation. Instead, it’s about being OK with who you are and confident in your abilities.
Ask anyone what they think is the sexiest thing about another and confidence usually ranks high on the list. Not to get into the weeds, but one must question the self-confidence of your so- called “friend” for saying what he did.
In my experience, people who struggle with their own sense of identity usually try to bolster themselves by tearing others down. But if you peel back the onion a bit, you often find these same folks are compensating for something. I’ll let you decide what that might be.
At any rate, you are probably thinking, “So, if confidence is the stuff of masculinity, how can you get more of it?” While there is no cookie-cutter answer to this question, I can give you three suggestions.
1. Set goals for yourself
When you set a personal goal, you challenge yourself to rise to the occasion and achieve the desired result. Along the way, you strengthen your resolve and psychological core.
Setbacks are part of the goal achievement process. In turn, valuable life lessons are learned that help to inform our sense of self.
If you want to be more masculine, it’s important to challenge yourself. Part of this means setting realistic goals. Examples of this include:
- Starting a new fitness program, like weightlifting or running.
- Learning a new skill, such as playing the guitar or photography.
- Teaching yourself mindfulness for resiliency
- Working towards financial goals and then achieving them
There are other things you can do as well. I’ve just touched on some examples. A great resource to consider is the best-selling book, Building Confidence by Davenport (see Amazon).
What I like about this read is how it gives you realistic, concrete ways to increase your sense of self without all the hypermasculine BS we see in today’s world.
2. Get some GRIT
When you hear the term GRIT, think of resilience. GRIT is the engine of perseverance and fuels motivations. Directly and indirectly, it empowers the goals mentioned above.
The stuff of GRIT finds its roots in positive psychology. Defined by psychologist Angela Duckworth and her colleagues, GRIT allows a person to work through adversity and even failure.
See the video above to learn more about GRIT.
3. Lean into your passions
The final way to up your masculinity is to channel your passions. This means looking inward to assess what has meaning to you – whatever it be – and then getting involved.
Examples include hiking, photography, exercising, politics. The idea behind this suggestion is to increase your involvement in the things that hold meaning to you. The paradoxical result is upping your confidence (see point one).
People who are happy with their lives and experience a sense of fulfillment are less focused on what others think and more concerned with how they feel about themselves (and not in a narcissistic way).
What are your passions? If you know what they are, how involved are you with them?
Chris, masculinity is a loaded term that is complex and subjective. Sure, there are books you can buy on this topic, such as “To be a man: A guide to true masculine power” (visit Amazon).
But at the end of the say, what seems more manly to you: The guy who likes himself and is confident or the dude who fakes a look and vibe to fit into a stereotypical box?
I hope this response was helpful to you.