What does it mean to be a man? Are there requirements to be a man? Is it necessary to you to be "considered" a man? These are very important questions that men may catch themselves asking. Unfortunately, answers to these questions are not that clear, and pondering them may be detrimental to oneís psyche.
There are certainly stereotypes about men and fathers, gender roles we fill, as well as societal pressures that can make men feel as though there are prescribed attributes and characteristics that are imperative in "being a man". They can influence men's perspectives on their appearance, the way they look at their career and most importantly their emotions. Understanding these pressures, both overt and covert, is necessary because they act on us, whether we like it or not. They may fuel our anxieties, insecurities and fears. Therefore, we must take them into account when deciding whether they will be incorporated into our own personal definition of "being a man".
Men more commonly identify themselves via their profession. "I am a doctor, lawyer or architect", at times, over-looking key roles as fathers, sons, friends and coworkers. Some of us put so much into our professional images that it comes at a cost to our relationships outside work. What effect does this have on those who have historically female-affiliated jobs like male nurses, airline attendants and hair-stylists? Are they not "real men"? What about those who are unemployed? How would they identify themselves?
Historically, men have been the "providers" or "breadwinners" of the household. This puts a great deal of pressure on men to be financially successful, not just enough for ourselves, but for our significant others and children. How does a man define himself if he is not the sole household income or primary "breadwinner"? Is he not a "provider"?
We are expected to be strong, brave and never to let our emotions get the best of us. We are told "real men donít cry" or is it that a "real man is not afraid to cry". The point is that there are a great deal of conflicting perspectives regarding what it means to be a man, and there is no way to satisfy them all. If one allows others to dictate how they feel about themselves, they may expend a great deal of energy trying to appease other, making their own happiness a mirage.
We must decide for ourselves what attributes we think are necessary in "being a man". We must also be aware all of these pressures, because they act on us directly and indirectly. So, before you ask yourself, "Am I a man?" One must answer the question, "Is it important to me to "be a man"? And then, more importantly, am I happy with the type of man I am?