I was asked by the Guardian last week, on the back of Grayson Perry’s Channel 4 documentary about blokes, to write a short observation of life as a man in 2016.
I am a man, and I have been for 25 years.
By nurture, I am a compassionate person. Unafraid to cry, at one with my feminine side, accepting of things and people that look, sound or behave differently to me. I am capable of critical thinking and being rational. By nature, my instinctive reaction to anything remotely threatening or challenging is to want to hit it over the head with a club. I’m caught in the cross fire in my brain as the two tussle with each other.
Several months ago, I tumbled out of a long-term relationship, hitting a couple of branches on my way down. I had to shake myself off, find my feet and rediscover who I was. What I found was unbearable pressure to look good, to sound good, to be the smarted, kindest and funniest – a world that expected me to be successful and happy – and would simply cast me aside if I wasn’t. Why haven’t I written a book yet? Why aren’t I juicing? I’m not funny enough on Twitter, am I? Is my radio show good enough? Why doesn’t Sue in the office like me? Do I speak too fast? John didn’t say good morning today, he must hate me. Do I hug him, or hit him? I’m getting fired, aren’t I?
Not only is there an insufferable pressure to be all things to all men, but an expectation that you will demonstrate it around the clock. I need more Instagram followers. Mike posted a really nice picture yesterday. He must be having a lovely time. I need to have a lovely time. Why am I not having a lovely time?
What I have found, as I glide through a mid-twenties that I assumed would bring me whimsical joy and carefree afternoons – is a crushing pressure to be the kindest, smartest, funniest, toughest achiever on Facebook, while both the primitive and nurtured sides of my brain battle each other – and it isn’t remotely conducive to being happy.May 10, 2016 | No Comments