What Happens When You Realize You’re a Man Now

Jason Henry
6 min readDec 17, 2018
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

“Toxic masculinity” is something I had unfortunately internalised prior to the term being thrown around in the last few years.

As a kid, I sat and listened to girl after girl repeat their episodes of sexual assault. I sat and listened to boy after boy share their stories of disappointment with their fathers. I realised that at some point I stopped looking at the positives of my male role models and instead focused on their neuroticism, selfishness, creepiness and/or insecurity.

I realised (or perhaps agreed) that I was a man when I was 21 at work and someone directed a client to “that man over there”. That was the first time that I heard someone call me a man, so I assumed that that was my initiation.

No bar mitzvah or getting my driver’s licence or being stung by some venomous insect for me. It was merely being given the label. Not as dramatic an initiation as I would’ve expected but what did I expect? I’m too culturally ambiguous to have a rite of passage.

When people say that someone is acting like a boy, they mean that that person is immature, imprudent and uninitiated. As a boy, you don’t necessarily think of yourself that way. Or, if you do, it’s not a bad thing. You accept that you have a lot of life to live and you’re ignorant about some stuff.

However, when one says that one should act like a man, they want the complete opposite. They expect maturity, wisdom and ability. They expect a certain amount of emotional health too, but that’s where the problem begins.

If you’re like me and you interacted with men as a kid, with your brain not yet fully developed and making sweeping generalizations based on emotional events, you may have come up with the same damaging labels to describe men: neurotic, selfish, creepy or insecure.

Clearly, these traits are not ones that illustrate emotional health. And like I said earlier, as a kid, maybe you have your own things to learn to become a man. But if you have a mental schema of what a man is and it includes any of the four (or similar) traits, do you think that you will escape these traits?

What happened when I accepted the notion that I was a man was that I felt like I was taking on traits that I never had before. As the…

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Jason Henry

Former Edu. Psychologist | Current Writer | Constant Learner | “By your stumbling the world is perfected.”