I am often a huge hypocrite when I show derision for men who have trouble sharing their emotions. It is true that there is a subtle push for men to be far more assertive and less emotionally available. It is also true that men have emotions and that it is okay to have emotions. However, as men, we are encouraged to show certain emotions more than others. We are encouraged to be more aggressive and assertive and allowed to show anger more than most. Being sad and vulnerable is discouraged. Times have changed a lot and many men do not have the same hangups as others but there is still a lot of baggage that comes with the traditional gender roles that are seen as socially acceptable.
The reason I felt such derision at men who didn’t show emotion and refused to ever show weakness, is mostly due to my own perception of myself. I am not aggressive or assertive and generally am much more comfortable with people getting along than conflict. I generally am unsure of myself and am willing to admit when I am wrong. However, I still refuse to be vulnerable in my own way. Being passive aggressive can be a form of defensiveness. I think occassionally I have done this and that I have also felt the need in the past to use small lies to prevent conflict and to appear more interesting to other people. This never ends well because regardless of what I do to avoid conflict, conflict always comes. Walking on eggshells to avoid conflict and prevent others from perceiving me negatively ultimately wastes my time because I cannot prevent others from having their own thoughts, feelings and perceptions of me. Often by trying to avoid the vulnerability of being unashamedly me, I come across as false and it doesn’t prevent others from having negative opinions of me. There is a type of confidence that needn’t be aggressive or brazen but is quiet and self-assured. This has nothing to do with your general personality, but is more about how you carry yourself. It is difficult for me to accept myself, even now at 30 years old. But I do try and be better and one of the things that I have learned is the value of true friendships. The people who weather the world with you and like you for who you are through thick and thin. They may not even like everything about you but the two of you have somethings in common and you both like each other and care about each other.
Being vulnerable can be difficult for many people in different ways and I now am much more sympathetic to it. Because when you open yourself up it can be terrifying and men too can feel the panic of that. It is because men care that they sometimes have difficulty opening up but they still will for the right people. And sometimes it really is super difficult for them. If they acknowledge it and are open about recognizing that as a part of them I think a real mature connection can happen with other people. Honestly, we could all use a little more empathy and learn to listen to each other more. The hyper competitive world we all live in discourages us to seek fellowship with other people but it is incredibly human to want this.