It is unfathomable to me to look out at society and see the increasing number of males my age that have no concept of manhood and respect. It seems that society has grown to accept a new breed of man that incorporates aspects of boyhood. This is infuriating, plain and simple. I may come across as hostile and like I’m pointing fingers. And I am. If you’ve never had someone get in your face and challenge anything you’ve ever said or done, then you’re a boy. If you expect that everything you say or do won’t ever be met with criticism, then you’re a boy. If you can’t take criticism as an opportunity to better yourself or your situation, then you’re a boy. Now that I’ve vented, we’ll take a look at how we can apply certain simple changes to our lives to remove ourselves from living like a child and onto living like a man.
1. If it’s broken, fix it.
We live in a society where everything is replaceable. Not only is everything replaceable, but it’s immediately replaceable. This is painstakingly evident in the area of relationships. I’m not just talking about romantic relationships, but platonic ones as well. I know “men” that have ditched friendships because people have been too honest with them. Really? Really. They solicit advice and then, when they get it, they get mad because it’s not what they wanted to hear and all of a sudden the advisor is a douche bag. This goes back to being able to take criticism well. If you can take criticism well, that means you can take it when it’s put to you as lightly as a dove, and when someone is yelling it at you red-faced because they have no idea how to communicate with other members of their species. If something is broken in one area of your life, and you solicit advice, be willing to, at the very least, ponder that advice. If you have not thought of the idea presented, it is novel to you and you should consider the positive and negative ramifications and develop your own thinking based on said advice. That’s what advice is for. Then use that advice to fix whatever it was that was broken. Unless, of course, like a cheating ex-girlfriend, you simply don’t think it to be worth it. Not everything can be fixed (or is worthy of being fixed), but fix what you can and trash what you can’t. If it’s something that serves you or can be used to serve others, fix it and keep it. If it doesn’t serve you or anyone else, ditch it. And don’t even get me started on how this applies to romantic relationships. It gives me an aneurysm just thinking about it.
2. Learn to say no.
This is the single most important thing that I have learned how to do since I graduated high school. For a long time, I wanted to be that guy that people could ask favors when they needed something. I would do things without expecting any reciprocation. And guess what? I got none. I’m not saying that doing favors isn’t important and noble. It is. Just don’t make a habit of doing it all the time for everyone that asks. It’s verbal capitalsim. The more often you say yes, the less valuable your yes becomes. Stop saying it for everyone. The more often you say no, the more valuable your yes becomes. That’s when two magnificent things will occur. You will be able to do whatever you want rather than always saying yes, and then people will actually appreciate you because your yes means so much. People you can always so yes to: parents, grandparents, select few best friends, your dog. People you can sometimes say yes to: platonic girl friends, work associates, actual girl friend. People you can never say yes to: ex-girlfriends, door-to-door salesmen, ex-girlfriends.
3. Dress and groom yourself.
This is by far the easiest thing a person can do to gain more respect. This should also be something you should do on a daily basis for even menial tasks. Dressing and grooming yourself at least makes you feel as if you’ve actually accomplished more in a day than you actually have. Not only that, but it can jump start your day and you are more likely to actually get something done after dressing and grooming yourself. It’s a pretty standard occurrence to not dress and groom yourself if you aren’t planning on leaving the house that day. If you’re a boy. A man knows better. “But I know I’m not going anywhere, why should I shower and shave?” Because what happens if that girl you like calls and says, “Oh hey I was just driving through your part of town and was going to stop by and say hey”? Sure wish you hadn’t been such a slob, huh? “But I’m only going to see some family for a minute, why should I have to dress up for that?” Dressing well and grooming yourself lets others know you’re doing well without you having to say a word. And we all know how annoying those questions are.”But I’m just going to class, and it’s at like 8 am so I’m not waking up early just to look nice for class.” Seriously? Have you ever taken anyone in sweatpants seriously? Do you actually expect someone with a Ph.D to take your sweatpants-wearing self seriously? Shave that moronic chin strap that your bros said was cool, cut and part your shoulder-length boyhood hair, and, for God’s sake, ditch the baggy jeans/sweatpants and band t-shirt for an oxford and some slim fit jeans. Add a blazer and some wingtips and people might actually begin to treat you as the adult you’ve always believed yourself to be.
The take home message is this: improving yourself isn’t as hard as you think, it just requires doing something that you’ve never done. Yep, that’s right, change. These are the three easiest ways I can think to improve the quality of your adult life. Stop living like a man-child and earn some respect. Being a man is about changing those little ways of thinking and trying to improve yourself. By doing that, people will see you as a man, and grow to respect you. All of these points were learned first hand and I have experienced them all. But what do I know, I’m only 22.