Virtual Defining Masculinity Series
The Power of Vulnerability
Seth Snoap, Men As Allies Coordinator
How many of us guys have felt the pressure of being told to “man up”? During a class I was facilitating, I asked some teenage guys to give some examples of this pressure. One young man shared an experience that has stuck with me to this day.
He shared that late one night he was walking in the park with some of his friends and another group of guys ran up to them. The group was there to jump them, and the young man was reasonably terrified. He wanted to run away but his friends started yelling “Stand your ground, men don’t back down, men sit there and take it”. So, he did. He stood there and took the beating, “like a man”. He “manned up” and took blows from a metal bat to the back of the head and had to be rushed to the hospital. Thankfully, he recovered and didn’t have any long-lasting injuries, but this story has stayed with me ever since.
Too often, men are told that we have to be in control, stoic, never cry, and never show weakness. But why? Why do men feel the need to hide our true feelings – our true selves from the world to prove our worth? Why can’t we allow people to see underneath this mask and let people in?
Being vulnerable is one of the most liberating things men can do, and once we finally reveal what’s under our “manly masks” is when we can start to live authentically. We are liberated from the shackles of living into what a “real man” should be and we can fully show our true selves to the world. It’s like a weight lifted off our shoulders as we begin to allow others to see the true us. We allow others in; into our struggles, our fears, our hopes, our dreams, and it feels good. We aren’t alone in our lives anymore. The people around us can bear our struggles with us. We can be afraid and run away without having our manhood threatened.
When I finally allowed people to peer behind my mask it was exhilarating. I wanted to show off who I truly was rather than this macho jock jerk who hid behind a mask. I wanted to geek out about Star Wars with my friends, I wanted to cry with them, say that I loved them without having to worry about my manhood. By allowing others in, I allowed myself to break free from my mask and that was okay. So, isn’t it time we take of this mask of manhood and let people see our authentic selves?