In Bob Dylan's classic 1963 protest song "Blowing in the Wind", he muses the question "How many roads must a man walk down, before you can call him a man?" I have always found this open-ended question interesting, and it got me wondering; what exactly are the top ten signs a man is in fact a a real man and not a boy, cleverly disguised as one? I think I may have some answers:
1. He doesn't make excuses:
In life, errors are commonplace; it is a natural part of the human condition. When a boy fails to achieve his goals - as his course strays beyond his reach, he searches for external factors of blame; friends, family, the weather, the Chuckle Brothers, God... any external poison will suffice. In doing so he fails to grow, and remains a boy. A man however, makes decisions and lives with the consequences - regardless of the outcome. He accepts his mistakes as part of the learning curve of existence, admits to himself what he did wrong and how to improve upon it, and never repeats his previous error... never.
2. He never qualifies himself to others:
|"Chuck Norris = Man."|
3. His reality is his own:
A boy walks though life allowing others to dictate the pace and direction of his steps. A man's path is determined by the metronomic beat of his own metaphorical drum. He may at times need to bend to the greater good, or enter the realms of others for their own benefit; a real man is methodical in his selfless nature. But life remains his own choice. His thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and actions, are always born from him, and him alone.
4. He lives by his principles, yet respects those of others:
Boys are sitting ducks of manipulation and control. They are also prone to feeling they know more than they actually do; due to a lack of experiencing any of life's many arse-kickings. A man carries a specific set of principals, which only the development of personal maturity can shape; never allowing others to overthrow it with their own will. He also respects others have their own set of values to live by, and makes no attempt to change their ideas - even if he completely disagrees with them. While it is nice when they do, he is too secure to need to have people agree with him.
5. He doesn't bullshit:
A liar bullshits through base insecurity - feeling a need to live up to a standard which he has created for himself, far from the realities of his own reflection. A man consistently strives to improve in every way possible. Because of this, he never disregards his honesty and pretend to be who he is not - he leaves this for boys. He is proud of himself, no matter what his life circumstances - simply because he accepts who he is, and knows it is enough to stand tall, look others square in the eye - men look others in the eye, and say to himself "I am who I am. Accept it or don't; I am not bothered either way."
6. He controls his emotions, and is never driven by them:
Boys are driven in a thousand directions by misunderstanding emotion, whereas a man leaves the burden of emotional fireworks to the female of the species. He is too immersed in taking care of personal business, to allow these wayward ruffians any power in distorting his natural, pragmatic path. Knowing full emotional repression is unhealthy, he chooses to release them within the dedication of his work, and the loving times with his partner; who is always a kind-hearted soul - as a real man never wastes his valuable time on liars, skanks, psychos, or Jeremy Kyle rejects.
7. He appreciates beauty, but is never intimidated by it:
Boys see beauty as power, and act like submissive flies to a Monkey turd around it; never respected in doing so. Men see beauty as an added bonus on top of a warm, engaging personality. While knowing those perceived by boys as beautiful - yet lacking internal decency, are in fact bereft of any beauty at all. He appreciates the effort made by females, but understands what lies underneath the skin is of greater value and importance. He searches for the little things; knowing these make for the biggest difference.
|"Uber-Fat Guy = not a Man."|
A boy will complete a task half-well, then tell the whole world how fantastic he was in doing it. A man will complete the exact same task with diligent execution, then hardly speak a word. Much like the boy in the pub who claims to be a black belt in jiu-jitsu - but hasn't even had one lesson in the discipline, the real master of the martial art will quietly stand in a corner, knowing the boy talks bollocks.
9. He is not afraid to be hated:
Life is complicated, and often grows more so with time and responsibility. A boy is unaware of this, and spends his days seeking acceptance by all and sundry - usually failing as he does. A man knows with assured confidence it is impossible to please everyone, and will not hesitate to make tough decisions - even if he faces derision for doing so.
10. He accepts he is just a man; nothing more, nothing less:
Boys desire legacy, and becoming the action heroes they live vicariously through each and every day; chasing a place of perceived omnipotence. A man knows he is simply a man; a mere portion of a much larger plan. Instead of trying to control or figure out why, lives day to day taking care of the small things, whilst building a bridge of progression. He appreciates every bright day handed to him, stands tall with his head held high, never whines about how life owes him a living, and shines a light upon those who he believes deserve it. He is a leader; he is a man.
And there you are. Ten signs to tell if a man is actually an overgrown boy, or the real deal. The path is a long and arduous road, and perhaps being a real man is much more rhetorical than this article suggests. Either way, I am sure we can all agree; a man is responsible, a boy is not, and it is never the Chuckle Brothers fault when shit goes pear shaped...
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