When Being Strong Is Weak
People think that to be a man you need to be strong.
You need to plant your feet and get ready to show fear who’s boss.
You need to be reliable and dependable.
You need to dig deep so you can just hang on that little bit longer.
You need to get a grip and get on with it.
You need to deal with it yourself.
You need to appear to be strong, even in those moments you don’t feel it.
You need to suck it up and take that step, even though you want to run home, make a nest under the bed and stay there ’til your next birthday when there’ll be cake.
It’s understandable, right? We no longer have to wrestle a bear for our dinner or out-run a hungry sabre-toothed tiger, but the drive to be strong is still a very real force at home, at work and in our relationships.
Worse, that drive to be strong doesn’t just come from men themselves, but is often an impossible expectation carried by others that men struggle to live up to. A manager expects you to suck it up and not get stressed when things are tough at work. A friend doesn’t expect you to open up and be honest about something that’s going on for you. And a partner expects you to be their rock and may hate shows of emotion.
Perhaps it’s no wonder that men struggle with their role and identity in a world that offers these mixed messages, and the drive to be strong threatens to screw you over in two big ways.
1. Conflict is inherent
Strength implies there’s something you need to be strong in the face of, something you need to steel yourself against or ready yourself for.
This inherent conflict is not only a flawed strategy for going about your life (I certainly don’t want to be fighting and struggling the whole time), but it’s freaking exhausting, right?
2. Walls get higher The need to be strong becomes a way of life, fuelled by the need to be in control amid the chaotic, unpredictable world we live in, and driven by