The Measure of a Man

I’m still not sure if I feel like a man.

I always imag­ined that it’s a mind­set you sud­den­ly devel­op (or a way peo­ple view you) once you have kids, or pass 30, whichev­er one comes first. There’s this idea stuck in my head that adults are these peo­ple who don’t have fun. They don’t watch (and enjoy) stu­pid movies, or play Warcraft, or talk on the phone for hours. It’s prob­a­bly from grow­ing up with my par­ents, who nev­er did any­thing that made them laugh or smile. Or maybe I’m hav­ing too much fun and free­dom to real­ly feel like I’m grown-up.

There was def­i­nite­ly some point between get­ting my first job and house, and now, that I start­ed to feel like an adult. It was nev­er a dis­tinct line though.

It’s still for­eign for me to say that I date women, as opposed to girls. To think I’ll ever grow out of say­ing that is very strange.

For now, the only thing I do that makes me feel like I’m a man is when I’m pay­ing and fil­ing my bills.


  1. Modern soci­ety cursed us with that label ado­les­cence.

    • I def­i­nite­ly don’t feel like an ado­les­cent, but maybe that’s because the word in my mind strikes up an image of some­one with no wor­ries, aside from ones of the oppo­site sex.

  2. You could always get a flan­nel shirt and an axe and go chop a tree. I hear that’s man­ly.

  3. Next November I’ll take you up to the farm and you can go deer hunt­ing with my fam­i­ly. Field dress­ing a buck will make you feel manly…and prob­a­bly a lit­tle nau­se­at­ed.

    • That sounds scary and excit­ing at the same time. Never been hunt­ing before, but I’d love to. I prob­a­bly won’t enjoy field dress­ing myself, but I real­ly want to observe and film it.

  4. I don’t know on the man­ly thing but I sus­pect for the adult thing, it’s hav­ing a child. My dear­est friend, a per­pet­u­al bach­e­lor and cre­ative kid-brain, has final­ly had a son, and I think it’s sobered him immense­ly. I’m not sure it’s all so good. But nec­es­sary, no doubt…

    I still feel twelve. (no kids.)

    • I sus­pect this is true. Even “kids” nowa­days who have babies turn into adults. It’s like they rise to the age of their respon­si­bil­i­ties.

  5. I’m 32 with 3 kids. To be hon­est I still feel like a kid :) I’m still into the same things I always did. I play WoW(stopped recent­ly) and gun­dam mod­els etc. It’s just a mat­ter of find­ing bal­ance I sup­pose.

    I also think there’s this paint­ed image of how a grown-man with kids should be. At the end, it’s just mat­ter tak­ing on the respon­si­bil­i­ty, but not at the expen­sive of destroy­ing your own lit­tle world.

    Paying bills = [Manly]

    • I imag­ine that many peo­ple wish they could feel the same way at your age, and have three kids at the same time.

      I don’t know how you find time to be a father and still play WoW though!

  6. Strange, as I remem­ber your par­ents always cracked jokes before they got mar­ried.

    Well, I think matu­ri­ty is not some­thing tech­ni­cal like pay­ing bills, not enjoy­ing stu­pid movies, or hav­ing chil­dren. I think matu­ri­ty is an attitude—being emo­tion­al sta­ble, empa­thet­ic, for­giv­ing. These may be traits acquired as we grow.

    • I think the mar­riage was long dead even before the time I was old enough to real­ize it. The only time they would talk to each oth­er was dur­ing din­ner. And it was only pet­ty work gos­sip.

      Empathy is a good one. I nev­er thought about that. Whereas oth­er traits (like being emo­tion­al­ly sta­ble) are more sub­ject to debate, I think empa­thy is more uni­ver­sal­ly accept­ed as a sign of matu­ri­ty. The inter­est­ing thing is that a child who is empa­thet­ic (which is a trait they’ve recent­ly con­firmed that we’re born with) does­n’t make them an adult.

      • Every now and then peo­ple would come up with con­clu­sions on whether man is born good or evil, or empa­thet­ic or oth­er­wise. Confuscianism believes man is born good. So far methinks man is born either evil or neu­tral.
        If a child is found empa­thet­ic, then it may be said that the child is men­tal­ly mature, it does­n’t make the child an adult though. That’s my 2 cents :)

  7. Being a man” often still seems to be in the vein of Conan the Cimmerians sug­ges­tion that you “crush your ene­mies, take their trea­sure. Enjoy the lamen­ta­tion of their women.” On the oth­er hand, the author of those fan­ta­sy books, Robert E. Howard, end­ed up shoot­ing him­self fatal­ly in a hos­pi­tal park­ing lot when he found out his elder­ly moth­er [with whom he still lived] was not going to leave the facil­i­ty alive. So maybe being man­ly remains a com­plex issue, espe­cial­ly for men who buy either into the macho non­sense or instead try to hard to be met­ro­sex­u­al.

    Perhaps we would be bet­ter to heed the words of a dead Roman Stoic philoso­pher and emper­or from almost 2000 years ago rather than a fic­tion­al Cimmerian from our own era. Marcus Aurelius wrote: “Waste no more time argu­ing about what a good man should be. Be one.” Seems like good advice to me.

    • I’m sure that expe­ri­ence in mar­tial arts (MMA espe­cial­ly, nowa­days) gives one much more expo­sure to that machis­mo. I’ve always laughed at that kind of atti­tude, like some­one think­ing he’s more man­ly and supe­ri­or because he has a big penis, or try­ing to com­pen­sate for lack of one. A “com­plex” issue indeed (par­don the pun).

  8. Can’t speak to the man aspect but s’pose soon­er or lat­er one would get smacked often enough to unlearn “girl” and say lady. ;)

    • That’s interesting…I would have imag­ined that girl was more of a com­pli­ment to one’s youth. Although lady does bring a cer­tain amount of sophis­ti­ca­tion to it.

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