Man to Man Episode #4: How to Feel Like a Man When I Look Like a Boy

by Brett on November 17, 2010 · 64 comments

in Man to Man

Welcome back to another edition of Man to Man. This week’s episode is in response to two emails I received this week from two different young men asking essentially the same question: How do I feel like a man when I look like a boy? One young man said he didn’t see himself as a man because he couldn’t grow a beard. The other said he didn’t feel like a man because he had a scrawny physique.

Watch My Response

What Do You Think?

Alright, its your turn. What advice do you have for these two young men? What can they do to start seeing themselves as men instead of boys? What makes you feel like a man?

Please keep your comments uplifting and edifying. I want Man to Man to be a forum where men can feel safe asking and answering these questions.

If you have a question you’d like answered on Man to Man, just shoot me an email via this contact form. Remember, it can be about anything!

Further Reading

Define Your Core Values

The Importance of Male Rites of Passage

{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jeremy November 17, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Masculinity is one of those things that needs to be affirmed. As terrifying as it was, it really helped me to be proactive in seeking out friendships with men I admired (whether it was their physique, their character, their integrity, etc.). Sometimes those men weren’t interested in fostering a friendship, but some were. I feel like a man when other men accept me as a man.

You just have to be willing to put your neck out there and risk getting hurt as you look for those affirming relationships.

One of the greatest moments for me was when one of my bodybuilding friends saw me on the beach. I still had my winter spare tire, I was pasty white, and I felt disgusting. But my “shame” didn’t stop him from being my friend. It put “my physique” in its proper place in the list of my priorities.

I’m all for striving to achieve certain levels of physical manliness, but it’s good to help keep that in perspective. Having relationships with men who HAVE that in perspective is healthy.

2 J R Garner November 17, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I think Brett has it right: having a buff body or being able to grow a lumberjack-esque beard doesn’t make you a man. I’ve met plenty of guys who spend hours in the gym lifting weights; more often than you’d think it’s to cover up insecurities of their own.

Brett’s advice is great. If I had anything to add it would be to learn to do something with your hands. The times when I feel manliest and proudest is when I’ve done something with my own hands. Seek something similar for yourself. It could be anything: volunteer with Habitat to help on a build project or with another community service project, take up woodworking or painting, learn how to perform maintenance on your car or how to repair minor plumbing problems yourself.

Engaging your hands, getting dirty, and being able to point to something and say “I did that” will put you well on the path to manliness.

3 Curtis November 17, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Brett, your voice sounds much deeper when it’s framed by that ‘stache. It’s outstanding.

4 josh November 17, 2010 at 9:06 pm

I feel for you guys. Right out of high school I was scrawny, too, and couldn’t really grow a beard. I still am kind of scrawny, and my facial hair is too patchy to try for a beard. My guess is that your feelings have a lot to do with the false ideas of manliness that are perpetuated in our culture, and the ideas you may have about how you are perceived by women.

Let me first say that all that is bollocks. Culture is ridiculous, and most women aren’t actually as shallow as you think they are. Start loving women as people, not fantasy objects, and you’ll find piles of them who will appreciate you for who you are.

Another bit of advice is with regards to your physique. You can’t change your hairless face (which doesn’t matter to most women – really), but you can change your physique. So as right as Brett is about how your physique does NOT define your manliness, if it still bothers you… DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! It’s a slow, often suck-tank process. You’ll have to work hard, eat more food, and buy a few overpriced tubs of protein shakes, but I guarantee that within a few months you will start to feel better about yourself. Not because you’re suddenly a huge gorilla of a man – chances are good that unless you’re willing to make your body be a second job, you’ll NEVER be that big – but because you are finally taking active steps to change something you don’t like in the world.

Also, you’ll be stronger. And more fit. Which is great, and may help fix our bloated, floundering health-care system.

Love you guys. It gets better.

Josh

5 Steve November 17, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Well, I always think that in order to be manly, a sense of pride has to come off from the way you walk to the way you talk. If there isn’t confidence then there is no sense of accomplishment in my book.

6 Herman November 17, 2010 at 9:23 pm

it takes a MAN to be secure enough to shoot a YouTube video with a baby’s crib in the background. now thats what i’m talkin about!

7 Mark Petersen November 17, 2010 at 9:30 pm

I know exactly what each of these guys feel like as I am not able to grow much facial hair (I’m not doing the Movember mustache because a month of not shaving yields only the pedophile dirt lip) and I have a “scrawny physique”.

I would add a couple things to you advice Brett.

1) Manliness is an attitude of self improvement.
I didn’t want to be the 130 lb wimp all my life so I took a weight lifting class at the community college I attend (Go Golden Eagles!) I’m also in a Judo class which is a great work out and I learn to do things.
I also am a self taught cook. A few weeks ago, I noticed that a former room mate left some baking yeast (2 lbs). I taught myself to make home made bread. I reject the notion that baking and cooking is “women’s work”.

2) Strive to be a a help to the community rather than a burden.
I did my share of screwing around and trouble making in my youth. Now I do my best to help where I can and not take when I don’t need. I volunteer at my church. I impart knowledge when those that lack seek it. There is something that every man is good at and can be used to help society. Find out what that is and do it.

8 JenS November 17, 2010 at 10:02 pm

I hope you don’t mind a woman’s perspective on this question.

J R gave some great advice. Even if you can’t work with your hands, you can accomplish something. Join Toastmasters and take up public speaking. Run a marathon. Become a Big Brother or a mentor. Don’t overreach, but do something you can be proud of.

Jeremy mentioned seeking out friendships with men you admire. This is good advice. Also, where ever possible, consider putting some distance between yourself and those who still treat you like a boy. It is difficult to establish yourself as a man if you are constantly being pulled backing to the role of a child by coworkers and acquaintances.

I would add two things. First, identify men you admire and list their qualities, other than appearance. Consider how you could emulate those qualities.

And, it is worth considering a wardrobe and grooming make-over. Clothes make the man, as they say. What message do your clothes send? If you are dressed like a Seth Rogan character in a Judd Apatow movie, you might not be a slacker but you are wearing the uniform. Even if you are already a sharp dresser, people will tend to associate the fashion that got you to graduation with your high school image. A make-over will help make it clear to others that you have moved into a new phase of life.

Good luck!

9 AndrewH November 17, 2010 at 10:11 pm

For me it isn’t so much feeling myself to be a ‘man,’ but getting others to think me a ‘man.’ As a baby-faced (still not shaving more than once a week, and you can’t tell), almost-18-year-old who is 5’5″ and 115 LB, people naturally think me to be younger than I am, and I can feel them looking down on me at times. At the same time, I feel estranged from my peers, due to there immaturity. For me it isn’t so much about ME respecting myself, but getting other people to do so. For this I have found the best way is through hard work, and as Brett says, developing a code to live by, which you will not compromise. When you are seen as a “man who cannot be bought or sold,” you will gain the respect of many. Personally I am not there yet, but gaining.

10 Samuel Graebner November 17, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Excellent video, excellent topic jumping-off point.

This question of a rite of passage brings me back to one of the definitions of maturity ya’ll have used before; namely, that a mature man is one who creates instead of consumes.

I myself am probably not much older than the gentlemen asking the question. I’m a third-year college student, and I’ve struggled with this issue already. I’ve found that producing creative works on my own, developing my skills – writing, playing guitar, and a new hobby of wood-working – has elevated my sense of manliness a great deal.

11 Rupert November 17, 2010 at 10:37 pm

I’m 41 and I can tell you what makes me feel like a man(*):
- having accomplished and learned a lot in my life
- having been through adversity and come through it
- having challenged and disciplined myself in various ways
- having had meaningful friendships, and meaningful relationships with women
- having nurtured and supported offspring

Actually I can distill this all down to one word: EXPERIENCE. Experience being a man, makes you feel like a man, plain and simple. You guys have a head start on this, since you’re currently men. :-)

You’ll notice most of the stuff above is difficult or impossible to count among your experiences when you’re 18 or 19. I’ve had 20 or so extra years to experience all that stuff! You guys are men, just not very experienced ones. Don’t worry about it! Don’t rush it! Nothing says you have to be anything right now other than what you are. “You’ve got your whole life ahead of you,” as they say. You’ve got plenty of time.

Speaking of that, if you wanted to grow a beard or start working out, I’ll repeat, YOU HAVE PLENTY OF TIME. But start now. Actually beards are irrelevant… the Roman soldiers shaved theirs off so their enemies would have nothing to grab onto. But working out and being strong, that’s good to do. Start now and get it done, now while it’s easier (trust me) so you don’t have to regret it later. That’s part of being a man too: setting goals and doing them. Facial hair is outside of your control, so it’s not a good goal.

Eventually you’ll have all the experiences I list above. And in the course of that, you can’t help but gradually define your core values, your “code” as Brett says. Speaking of that, I want to caution you, don’t feel bad if you have trouble making that list of your core values. At your age I sure didn’t know what mine were. But I figured it out eventually. Even so, it’s good to TRY and make the list. Just consider it a draft. Keep an open mind, and keep the list. Revise once a year. You might add to it, you might even scratch stuff out, deciding it wasn’t actually a core value, and “what was I thinking?”

(*) Also I don’t necessarily believe you or any man will ever “feel like a man” per se. You just feel like what you are! ;-)

12 Elliot R. November 17, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Manliness certainly doesn’t depend on muscles or facial hair, I think- it’s the inner man, like Bret said. It’s about how you think, how you treat other people (especially women), all that good stuff.

13 Reverend Cowboy November 17, 2010 at 11:17 pm

I’m glad to hear Brett mentioned Freemasonry– I joined last St. Patrick’s Day, and being a part of such a masculine community, regularly associating with other men from all walks of life, has really made me feel more manly, and has also improved my marriage; And being a better husband is *definitely* manly.

14 Dan K November 17, 2010 at 11:44 pm

On the rights of passage, it doesn’t even necessarily need to be a big ceremony or with a big group. When we were sophomores in college, three of my closest friends from home and I spent a few months researching and planning a week long backpacking trip. We started the trip with an 800 mile road trip through other states, 80 miles of hiking split across 5 days, and 800 miles back.

The trip was not only a great bonding experience for us but also forced us to push ourselves beyond our own physical and mental limits. We all began with the expectation that we would never make it to our destination on time, but by the end we had all injured ourselves and still made it to our destination a day early, giving us a whole day to recover, relax, and enjoy the mountainside scenery. We also never thought we would survive mentally and would be so fed up with each other by the end that we’d kill each other. But forcing ourselves through this trip, we learned a lot about ourselves and a lot about each other, even though we had all been friends for over a decade.

To this day, all of us credit this grueling experience as the week where we finally shrugged off the feeling of being boys and finally felt like we were men. We had pushed ourselves beyond our own limits physically and mentally and had not only survived the entire ordeal, but had come out better and stronger men than we were going in.

15 chris November 18, 2010 at 2:59 am

I have been where you guys are. A couple of things that helped me. 1)its about whats inside your heart as corny as that sounds. King David, the greatest king of Israel, wasn’t much to look at. the book of samuel records the prophit going to anoint the new king. so the prophet thinks that its the oldest, he looks like king material, then another, then another.
all looking like what we imagine a great king to look like, and finally God says “I dont see man as you see, for i look into the heart.” and then God’s choice was david to be king. david was young beardless and scrawny, but a man after Gods own heart.

2)”If you dont believe in something you will fall for anything.” One of the greatest characteristics of manliness I ever saw is what a man believes in. cause he believes in it, even if know one else does. fine with him cause he knows who he is in what he believes.

3) I also would recomend finding away to be a part of a youger persons life, like volunteering at the ymca or the boys and girls club. when i was growing up there was this big brother program where a high school or college stundent would adopt a younger person not to live with but to be a big brother to. ehlping someone younger even as just an example i think would help you greatly. i hope this helped good luck guys.

16 Kevin Daley November 18, 2010 at 5:10 am

I used to have a chronic problem with the whole confidence thing. I would go through my life without that sense of accomplishment that some commenters have mentioned even though I /had/ accomplished plenty as it was. I just wasn’t seeing things in the right light…I focused too hard on my weakness and not enough on my strength.

At that time I wasn’t a religious person, but when I found that sort of deeper, concrete meaning to life it worked wonders. I’m not suggesting per se that you immediately go out and join a religious group, although if you do decide to there are many communities who will welcome you with open arms, but having three things: a trust relationship with the world around you, a community to fall back on, and a set of morally-guided principles (as Brett aptly mentioned) to live by can change every aspect of your life in ways you’d never imagine. However you decide to go about attaining those things, it will benefit you greatly. Otherwise, whenever life throws something new and confusing at you, you feel helpless, and that is kind of the antithesis of manliness.

So meditation is good, but as a lot of people have suggested, go out and meet people who can support you in life’s journey. And find something that you can do every day that gives you a sense of accomplishment…you don’t have to be a workaholic or an ubermensch, just break enough of a sweat that you feel good afterwards about how you spend your time. And decide who you want to be and try (and fail often) to live that every day. Everything else really just sort of comes from that.

17 avi November 18, 2010 at 6:02 am

In my early twenties, the things that made me fill a man, were accomplishments. Better job, more pay, graduation of school (and later on, from university), all made me feel better with myself, and… accomplish more.

18 Ashley November 18, 2010 at 6:23 am

Brett hit on the crucial thing to consider in answering this question: suggesting that an aspect of your appearance somehow devalues what exists inside gives too much power, too much concern for all the wrong people: that is, everyone but you. Additionally, it leads you to underestimate yourself.

In hearing questions like this, I’m reminded of Jack Kerouac’s: “No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and there by learning his true and hidden strength.”

It is in moments like those that you come into your own as a man, in which you realize what is important, in which you take stock and begin to understand all that you have.

You don’t feel like a man? Stop trying to grow a beard. Go out and find yourself.

Best wishes.

19 Real Optimist November 18, 2010 at 6:41 am

Brett, thanks for the video. Great mustache, great advice, and as some others have pointed out, great baby crib. No insecurities there! Well done. Outstanding, in fact.

Here’s my $0.02 worth. Three things come to my mind. First, it’s not falling for what society often ignorantly defines as “being a man”. Second, an aspiring young man would do well to ignore the values of rites and rituals of passage. Third, it’s knowing the difference between “becoming” a man and simply “being” a man.

First, there are so many false standards society foists upon the young. Ignore them. Being emotionally and present and accessible does not make you a “pussy”, just as a lumberjack beard and big muscles don’t make you a “man”. Dressing sharply and having a cheerful, positive demeanor does not make you “more likely to be gay”. Opening the door for others, ladies included, does not make you “backward” or “a doormat”.

Brett, you mentioned a good point about our society basically abandoning past rites/rituals of passage into manhood. Personally, I don’t see that as being a bad thing. Walking across hot coals or passing some sort of arbitrary test, completing a ritual, or being tapped on the head at some passage event are frankly, ridiculous and dangerous just the same as some gang initiation where the prospective thug has to commit a crime to show he is worthy of membership. In my line of work, passing the leading certification exams does not make one qualified to do the work. Only actually doing the work, the “experience”, qualifies one as Rupert so eloquently pointed out up above.

And third, it has to be realized biologically, boys become men just the same as girls become women. While there’s nothing wrong with having arbitrary celebrations as some cultures do (e.g. the Hispanic quinceanera or the Jewish bar mitzvah come to mind) to celebrate this basic fact, it neither hinders or promotes what is essentially a biological imperative: we get older. But are we taking note of our mistakes, wins/losses, experiences, and relationships, or are we just “getting older”? This is the difference between just “being a man” and “becoming a man”. The Man School has no graduation date. It’s a lifelong syllabus, with endless variety and reward. And in this I have proof: the constant stream of fresh material being added to the AoM web site. Fantastic stuff.

Fancy shoes or expensive equipment does not the player make any more than facial hair and muscles make the man. Hard work, dedication, and learning from and building on our experience is what makes us men. Respect, talent, pride, and vulnerability all factor in. Facial hair and muscles, not so much. Ask Stephen Hawking.

20 Jesse Williams November 18, 2010 at 7:15 am

I am a 20 year old student who is an avid follower of the AOM. I think that the whole concept of what it is to be a man has become strewn in out society. I don’t think that having a big build or a beard makes you a man. I think it has a lot to do with maturity levels. If you act like a boy people will treat you like one. Also I feel that the way you dress tells a lot about you. If you are constantly in sweat pants and flip flops you don’t look like you care. You guys should not worry about looking like a man you should worry about being the best man you can be.

21 Ryan Tyler November 18, 2010 at 7:57 am

I am in my late 20s, and I have the same problems. However, I never let my lack of a beard or scrawny physique define who I am. Own your insecurities is the best advice I can give.

A few people have pointed out that for many men, the drive to work out is fueled by insecurities. Yes, George Lucas has a beard, but I’m pretty sure it’s to cover a weak chin.

A lot of the advice above is great. Dress and act your age. Be professional in your work. Be confident in yourself. Be articulate.

Someone once told me that you can learn a lot about people by looking at their friends. There are people that may not be able to see past your boyish looks. Ignore them and focus on the relationships that matter to you.

Hope this helps,
Ryan Tyler

22 eitan November 18, 2010 at 8:21 am

It may not make you a man, but exercise will increse your endorphins, your physique and your overall well-being. Pushups, situps and chinups at home with a running regiment is a great way to be in overall good shape. So while overdoing it with extreme weights and muscle-milk while developing an Adonis complex might be overcompensating for insecurities, we’re talking about people who have insecurities in the first place!

I want to put forth that having a balanced body – a strong back, shoulders, and arms, while staying in good health is an excellent way to feel better about life all around…and can’t hurt your manliness, either.

23 Bevan November 18, 2010 at 8:57 am

When I was fresh out of highschool I couldn’t grow a beard but as I aged its all too easy. In a way your face gets older and the beard will likely come, but at the same time that does not make a man. What makes a man is, like you said, a right of passage. To me a right of passage doesn’t have to be a ceremony of pomp and circumstance. I belong to a secret society and went through that in college but I felt I was a man long before. I believe manhood is developed by taking on responsibility and denial of want. These two items are related and separate at the same time. A child dodges responsibility and leaves decisions and work up to its elders. When a child transitions from a boy to a man he earns or is given responsiblity and is judged by how he handles it. My experience, growing up on a farm, involved assuming the jobs of adults and through success in mastering those jobs I earned my manhood. The denial of “want” is the other half of becoming a man. A child is always wanting and rarely shows restraint. The pursuit of the “denial of want” shows self control and maturity. There are many males out there who can’t live without the latest and greatest item without regard for whether they truly need it or can afford it. The denial of want grows maturity, forethought, thrift, and can lift a man out of a group a males by his wisdom through discipline. The great men of history took on responsibility and showed the ability to delay their “wants” to achieve their goals.

24 Donato November 18, 2010 at 9:25 am

Manliness is judged in terms of masculine virtue. One of these virtues is fortitude, under which I would place perseverance and endurance. There is something manly about setting a goal and meeting it, whether it is learning to rock climb, being able to do 100-push ups, or building a patio all on your own. Even women notice and are aware of who the real men are. They aren’t concerned so much with facial hair and how one is naturally built. They want to know, does he have inner strength or is he still a little boy, and does he control that strength like a gentleman?

25 Claude Warner November 18, 2010 at 9:45 am

You can’t “make” yourself be a man. You can do manly things such as acting with integrity, treating others with respect, even challenging and stretching yourself physically and emotionally, but you may still not feel like a man.

In the movie Sponge Bob and his friend go off on an adventure, but are not very confident about their ability. It is only when Mindy gives them a seaweed moustache (this is Movember after all) that they start seeing themselves as men.

From then on they are brave and fearless, that is until the moustache comes off and a decision has to be made “Am I a man because of my moustache, or because of my perspective of how I see myself”.

This is a question that every man has to answer at some point in his life.

Another example is Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs in The Natural who, when his lucky bat breaks, has to decide whether his prowess in his innate ability or in his bat.

Ultimately people will treat you as you see yourself, so the real start of masculinity is a foundational stance about who I am as a man.

Many pursuits and achievements can help inform this posture of “I have what it takes”, but only you have the power to decide if you are a man or not.

From the moment that you make that decision, and stick to it no matter how much the evidence is to the contrary, slowly but surely you will start living out the fact that you are a man, and increasingly the world will feel the weight of it, and they will notice….

26 Nathan Wheeler November 18, 2010 at 9:56 am

I definitely agree that manliness comes from character rather than from build or beard, but I would even go a step further. In that character of being a man, you have to continually work to be manly. Dropping your stance on morals, ethics, or anything that you stand for will make you less of a man. This isn’t to say you can’t change your mind about stuff, but knowing what you believe and why you believe it is the path to being a powerful, self-confident man.

27 Jonathan Sutton November 18, 2010 at 10:22 am

Great post! My father in law has had that trouble all his life he is short and full of energy so although he is almost 50 he looks 30.

28 Hanson November 18, 2010 at 10:46 am

Being a “MAN” is a mental state. Being “MANLY” can be a physical state, but it is not a requiredment to the former. Talk to any vet who has lost a limb in war and is not “physically” the same as he once was… does that prevent him from being a “MAN?”

No. It does not.

Simple tips on being a man:
1) Look everyone in the eyes when talking with them.
2) Give firm handshakes
3) Remember peoples names
4) Keep your word
5) Go out of your way for others, especially for elders, women, and children
6) Control your tongue and your temper

It is ones character in interacting with people that makes you a man. I was a thin, scrawny 120 high shcooler… but I would say that because I made it a priority first and foremost to do the above, people treated me as older than I was. I believe this fact even landed me a farmhand job as a freshman at 14 (the farmer thought I was a senior). And then I proved to him I was a man and worked hard and stayed late working for him all through high shcool.

Being a man is more about your character than your physical stature. Start there.

As a side note, I couldn’t physically grow a beard until I was about 25. And two of my close friends cannot at all. This does not categorically rule “MANHOOD” out from attainment, because it is not based on things you cannot control like hair growth, but on things you can control like your character.

29 Jun Balagtas November 18, 2010 at 11:00 am

Great video response. Thanks for this.

Here is my response to the emails:

The answer to this question is to simply act like a man. If you are no longer a boy but somehow still look like one or others may treat you as if you are still a boy doesn’t change what you have become: a man. You must simply assert yourself as a man who gives respect and deserves respect given back to him.

Try this trick I got from a book about Aikido, a Japanese martial art:

In martial arts class one must practice with a partner in order to learn a technique. Sometimes, these two must perform in front of the class, partially as a way to demonstrate to the teacher and the others their version of the technique. This allows for critique of their martial arts ability.

In order to gain an edge in the demonstration, one should develop the ability to instantaneously show confidence as soon as they get on the training mat. One should stand straight, square the shoulders, look proudly and widely at the opponent, the class and the teacher; as a matter of fact, the entire room. It’s as if to say, “This is MY mat. I am ready to play and I invite you upon it.”. Now, the point of this exercise is to not necessarily to intimidate the person you are about to engage with or to exhibit false bravado. It is to simply, in that brief moment, show anyone and everyone that you have no fear and are ready for whatever it is that they want to show you and will be happy engage in it, no matter what. Because, you see, it is “MY” mat.

I’ve used this technique many times when I approach friends, co-workers and strangers alike. The immediate effect is that they will sense your confidence and straightforwardness and that you are a man that must be treated with respect and dignity and that you cannot be messed with.

Changing the way one feels about oneself and the way they relate to others (respect given, respected deserved) is a great place to start. This type of thinking should transfer towards the way one can do business, the way one can initiate and complete a project with teams of people, and even perhaps in romantic relationships.

**************************************

I believe that it is important for a man to have clearly defined positive qualities about oneself and to carry that perception to others. However this can work in reverse and a man can show the opposite and present themselves in a harsh, overt and almost compensating way. I can think of one guy in recent memory who alienated everyone on a recreational sports team because of his overt ‘masculinity’: he insults people with jokes about them even when he is asked to stop, he is always controlling people to do things that they don’t want to do, apparently he uses people against each other to have them do what he wants them to do and through it all doesn’t seem at all to be a happy guy.

Inevitably, everyone on the team began to leave. Unfortunately part of the reason (for others mostly the reason) was this guy. In his own mind, this guy thought that this loudmouth version of a man, probably a stereotype of a guy he saw (or was himself) in his many years in Special Forces, would work in the civilian world. I know for a fact that this guy is not confident and deep down is a shivering, distrustful child who never learned to be a man due to many years of terrible sexual abuse. The military showed this child a way out of this hell. But the abuse cut off any chance to for this kid to learn how control himself and as a result, could not control the way others perceived him.

He never owned the mat. Someone took it away from him a long time ago and he never found a way to get it back.

So…see yourself as a man and starting acting like the best man you can be.

30 JC November 18, 2010 at 11:05 am

Some good advice here so I’ll keep my comments simple and easy to implement:

- Start Stronglifts 5×5.
- Buy new clothes. More shirts, less t-shirts. Doesn’t have to be expensive, just smarter,
- act more confident.

First of all, you CAN get stronger, and doing so is a worthwhile aim. Will it instantly make you manly? No. But that shouldn’t be the only reason you work out. Train hard just three times a week and you’ll feel stronger, healthier and more confident. Ditch the surfing t-shirts and you’ll help ditch the “boyish” look. Act confident. The exercise will improve your posture and gait and the clothes will make you look better. Fake it till you make it. And remember, everyone at your age feels young and insecure, grow gradually and relax.

31 Carlos A November 18, 2010 at 11:10 am

My advise, in order to feel a man instead of a boy, as you said before is a period or a passage. In this period you should be able to have some autonomy, getting a weekend job, living out of parents home and of course dating some girls. Afterwords when you are able to solve your problems yourself then you will feel more man, if you can solve also other people problems are a real gentleman!

32 Another David November 18, 2010 at 11:17 am

I’m 5’3″ and I can’t grow a beard. But that doesn’t mean I can’t feel like a man. There are some things about myself that I can’t change – my height, for instance – but there are other things that I can control – my physique, for instance.

To the guy who couldn’t grow a beard, I say this: I know where you’re coming from, but don’t worry about it. It’s not a big deal. Some women like beards, most, from what I’ve found, do not. Plus you probably don’t have chest hair either. Or back hair. Or ass hair. You’d be hard pressed to find a woman who’s into any of those things. I know from personal experience that it’s not so much about having a beard, but more about having the ability to have one if you wanted one, and to be perfectly honest, the only thing that’s going to help with that is time. Be patient, and either you’ll be able to grow a beard or realize the virtues of not having to deal with it.

To the guy who doesn’t feel like a man because he’s scrawny: hit the gym, bro! I know Brett says it’s not about outward appearance, and he’s right. But if it’s something that bothers you that much, then be a man and change it. I’ll bet the thing holding you back is the awkwardness of the first couple times you go to the gym – it holds a lot of people back – but it’s nothing to be afraid of. Everyone in the gym had a first time in the gym. I know it can be hard to “come out” (so to speak) as a gym person, like the first time one of your friends finds your protein mix or something, but you’ll feel better when you notice real changes. My friends in college would work out for a little while and then slack off for six months before saying “oh man, I need to hit the gym again.” But they always commented (and still do) on my ability to motivate myself to go to the gym and work hard every time, and the physical feats that I accomplish from time to time. The fact that I was going to the gym every other day became a fact of life and part of my routine, no longer some stupid thing I was into, eventually they even stopped commenting on the protein shakes. If you take it seriously, so will they.

33 Aaron November 18, 2010 at 11:22 am

Id work on a good handshake. A firm handshake with a good posture and eye contact will always put you in a better light, especially with older men. If they take you seriously, they’ll involve you more, making you feel more like a man. I agree with what brett said about the code of behaviour, or as an earlier email called it your N.U.T.S.

If you want to build confidence, theres nothing like a martial art for doing so. Knowing that if need be you can handle yourself helps you stop worrying about alot of problems.

hope this helps.

34 Matt November 18, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Honestly, I get where these guys are coming from too. Except I worried about having too fat of a physique, not scrawny. If he’s worried about being too scrawny, do what I did to get less fat: manly workouts. I’m sure there are pages on here that can help. About the facial hair, don’t worry about it. Most young women prefer clean shaved guys. So his body naturally helps his fashion. That’s actually kinda lucky.

More importantly than your physical body, to feel like a man have pride in yourself, on many levels. One thing that makes me feel like a man is taking care of my family, knowing that I pay those bills, work hard, and still spend time with my family. Take up a manly hobby, maybe something that isn’t too popular, like whittling. Walk tall, be confident, be loyal to your friends. If that isn’t manly, I don’t know what is.

35 MK35540 November 18, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I would like to retweet (so to speak) what Jeremy, JenS and Real Optimist has said on the subject.
And I liked the comment where eitan mentioned the adonis complex and overcompensating for insecurities.
Also calling a close friend (I look up to) my life coach or my mentor helped me discover what my core values should be.

36 Ben November 18, 2010 at 1:31 pm

By ACTING like a man.

Feelings are nice but when it really comes down to it they are irrelevant. Your actions define you.

I know fellows who are afraid of little. Are they brave? I don’t think so. I think they are awesome but since they are not conquering fear they are not exercising bravery.

I have finally reached a place where I know that I am a man and endeavor to act like one consistently. That said I can’t say that I spend much time FEELING like one.

Conquering your emotions is key to being a man.

So yeah, find your core values. As you identify and refine them integrate them into your choices. Eventually you will understand that you are a man. You won’t believe it, you will know it.

As far as the beard goes, Being able to grow a beard is like having a large penis. It’s great if you do but it doesn’t actually mean anything. Most of the pirates had beards (e.g. Red Beard and Black Beard) but that didn’t make them men.

Both the beard and the small physique* are examples of looking to external confirmations an internal state of being.

*Eat meat and workout!

Excellent point about the rites of passage. Critical.

37 dcm November 18, 2010 at 2:31 pm

I had those same feelings when I was young and they remained with me for many years. I didn’t have a forum such as this to turn to and I think that you are getting many great ideas. Rather than give you a list of thoughts or things to do, I would like to just give you a phrase to investigate. That phrase is “emotional maturity”. We may not be able to necessarily change our outward appearance of physical maturity but we can change our emotional maturity. I came to the concept late and I realized it could have made my life a lot better than it was. Just google it and you’ll find lots of information.

38 Another Rupert November 18, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I have to agree with what’s been said before.. How you look does not make you a man. You might appear more manly to the uninitiated but that doesn’t define manliness. I could put a licence plate round my neck but it wouldn’t make me a car!

In the UK we still have a rite of passage. It’s going to the bar with your father and buying him a beer :) It’s a shame you have to wait till you’re 21 in the states.

So, as the bar idea is out of the question, here’s my advice..

1. Travel. Get yourselves a passport, save up and go see the world. Travel broadens the mind, it will give you confidence and stories to tell.

2. Ditch the games consoles and start brushing up on your current affairs. You’ll soon find that the people your age (that you think look more manly) are just big boys. With knowledge you’ll be able to converse with real men and be accepted as the equals you are.

3. Shave every day. It’s been said that shaving promotes hair growth and taking care of your appearance instils discipline (that’s why army recruits shave ever day, even if they don’t need to).

4. Take responsibility around the house, even if you live with your folks. Volunteer to wash the dishes, take out the trash or cut the lawn. Even though you might have done these as chores as a kid, you’ll now be taking them on as an adult.

Finally take a break from being a man, find time to be the child you once were. If you still love watching cartoons or reading comics, give yourself some time to yourself and do it without apology.

39 Mitch November 18, 2010 at 3:13 pm

It sounds contrived, and trite, but I learned everything I needed to know to be a man in the Boy Scouts.

A man is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

A man does his best to do his duty to god and country, he helps other people at all times, he keeps himself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

A man is prepared.

A man does good daily.

Easy things to say, harder to internalize and do your best to live by. It wasn’t until years later in my mid twenties that I was able to reflect and realized they’d become my core values.

For those of you who weren’t fortunate enough to have that wonderful experience growing up, look for similar experiences. Define your code. Develop skills. Learn and grow. Commit to a culture of constant improvement. Once you have these things, commit to building up the people around you. Particularly other men. Be a role model.

Which brings me to another point. Look for rights of passage for yourself and for others.

There’s a holiday coming up with phenominal opportunities for man-development. Teach the little ones in your life about family, and service to others and helping. Carving the turkey can also make a wonderful right of passage pull the young men in your family together around the bird, like our primitive ancestors gathered around the fruit of their hunts, and teach skills they will need when they have families of their own: Knife safety, knife sharpening, carving, the ettiquete and manners of serving the bird.

40 Evander November 18, 2010 at 4:53 pm

“The gyms you go to are crowded with guys trying to look like men, as if being a man means looking the way a sculptor or art director says.” -Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
As this quote implies being a man is not simply looking like a man, or the way we’ve been told a ‘real man’ should look. A man is not defined by his appearance but rather his actions and the way he carries himself.As cliche as it may sound the first step to carrying yourself as a man and feeling as such is to be confident in yourself and your masculinity. I myself am still learning to do both as I am also young.

41 M.T. Rush November 18, 2010 at 6:44 pm

The small baby-faced guy may not get the manly action hero role in Hollywood, but the real world offers a good number of examples. Here are two:
John Coffee “Jack” Hays was a Captain in the Texas Rangers described by a subordinate as, “a slim, slight, smooth-faced boy, not over twenty years of age, and looking younger than he was in fact. In his manners he was unassuming in the extreme, a stripling of few words, whose quiet demeanor stretched quite to the verge of modesty. Nevertheless, it was this youngster whom the tall, huge-framed brawny-armed campaigners hailed unanimously as their chief and leader.” Jack wasn’t a television Texas Ranger, but a “We’re surrounded by 300 Comanche,” Texas Ranger. By all accounts, he knew what needed to be done and did it, without being hindered in the slightest by his size.
Audie Murphy was rejected by the Navy and Marines and didn’t make it into paratrooper training because of his size. He stood a shade over 5’5” and was thinly built. Regardless, he singlehandedly kicked more Axis ass than some entire platoons did in the European theater. His manly exploits were so impressive that he was promoted to company commander less than three years after entering the Army as a private. A quick internet search will reveal photos of Murphy, the most highly decorated American of WWII, covered in medals from shoulder to waist, looking every bit of twelve years old.
I can also speak with a bit of personal authority on the subject. I enlisted in the Air Force a shade over 115 lbs. In the numerous years that have passed since then, I’ve added a pound or two and managed to cultivate a decent mustache. The mileage that shows in my eyes and the weathering apparent on my face generally now causes people to overestimate my age, but I’m still not a big guy. Furthermore, I still don’t really care. I have managed to survive and excel at two manly careers and while there’s no danger that I’ll be asked to star in a movie about me, my man-card has been stamped in a lot of places bigger fellas fear to tread.
So, don’t worry too much about appearance; what’s important is that you now start thinking like a man. Know who you are and who you want to become. Develop a sense of honor and moral courage. Be self-reliant and discipline yourself to do those difficult things that you don’t want to do, but need to get done. Strive for self-improvement and take time daily for self-assessment. Take mental stock of your strengths, weaknesses and priorities and make changes or adjustments where they’re needed. Learn to stand up for yourself and what you think is right, even when you’re the only one standing. Remember, the cool car; over the top skull tattoo; high-maintenance, super-hot girlfriend won’t make you more manly, they’ll make you broke and unemployable, so don’t go for the easy superficial fix. You don’t take “manly” off when you go to bed at night.
Being here on AOM shows your probably starting off in the right direction. It takes time, so keep at it and remember, we’re all a work in progress.

42 John November 18, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Start by setting well defined goals for yourself. Saying “I want to be more manly” is very vague, and will mean many different things to different people. Whether it’s “I want to do 25 pullups,” or “I want to learn how to fix my car” working towards and accomplishing your goals will boost your confidence, make you more independent, and serve as a reminder that you can accomplish something if you set out to do it.

Make sure your goals are reasonable, but don’t sell yourself short either. For example, saying “I want to do 1 pushup” or “I want to set the world record for pushups” are both goals, but neither one is an appropriate challenge for the average man. A goal that is too easy won’t give you any sense of accomplishment, and a goal that is too hard will endlessly frustrate you.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a man. Steadily working on your various life goals will take you down the path to manhood, but where the “mile marker” lies on that path is different for everyone.

43 Anthony Corps November 18, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Being a man comes with time and experience. Stop worrying about being a man. If you feel like a boy thats probly because you still are a boy. If you have a talent focus on that and get better at it. For instance, I play guitar, when I play I feel like a man. Its something I enjoy. Get a job. Having a job is manly. Having a girlfriend and treating her right is manly. Setting a goal and working towards it is manly. Dressing like a man in manly. Think simple first. Facial hair is overrated. Go to the gym. Being in shape is manly. U get the point…………………

44 Dave November 19, 2010 at 12:27 am

Being a man is all on the inside, and it will show on the outside. I am a scrawny white guy with a baby face. If ever there was someone that could feel insecure about how young they looked when working in my career on an equal level with men in their 40s and 50s, it’s me. It’s all about confidence. While it can help, you can’t derive your confidence from how you look. You need to find the bulk of your confidence in who you are. THAT is how you feel and consequently look manly. Take solace in the fact that when you’re 50, you’ll look like you’re in your 30s with nearly twice the worldly wisdom and experience.

45 Brian Fulton November 19, 2010 at 3:40 am

Good tips and comments.

I was raised “old school”. My grandfather was born in 1906, my dad, 1947. Both were clean shaven throughout their lives, except for the 70s when my dad did the mustache thing (it hasn’t returned, he’s still clean shaven). Except for about a one month period coming out of the military i have been clean shaven for my entire life.

My “coming of age” was at about 14. My father knew I was competent, could handle jobs and behave myself. He knew i’d still screw up occasionally, but expected me to handle myself well. Dangerous tools, dangerous jobs and weapons were entrusted to my care with the knowledge i was not a boy anymore. Moms never quite let you grow up (at 97 my grandmother still treats my dad like he’s 12) but men will generally treat you properly if you act properly.

Don’t be a moron. Do what you say you’ll do.Use proper manners, treat the ladies well, Dress like you’re older than 16, and they’ll accept you are. I look young for my age, but from 14 onward till 25, people generally thought (because of my actions and temperment, etc) I was 4-5 years older. Now i tend to get mistaken for younger because of the industry i work in, but no one ever questions if i’m a kid.

I once told an 18 yr old guy, who frankly was acting like an idiot something, starting it out with “kid,” at which he cut me off saying “I’m 18! I AM A MAN!” (his very actions showing his immaturity).

I replied to him “I’ve known 12 year old men and 25 year old boys. You’re a kid.” I generally don’t cut guys down in public especially in front of girlfriends in this case, but the point was made. He was a loudmouthed idiot. Don’t be one.

Napoleon was neither big nor bearded. Neither was Gaius Julius Caesar. Teddy Roosevelt was born a weakling who made himself into one of the more admirable men of the 20th century. You are not lacking in examples.

46 James B. November 19, 2010 at 3:52 am

Own it, fella’s. That’s the best advice I could give coming from a scrawny 25 year old who still get confused for a 19 year old. Exercise to stay healthy, not bulk up. Get a good tailor, it’s not always easy finding clothes that fit us skinny guys right off the rack. Be honest towards people, especially women (they respect you/like you more). With all that covered the only thing you’ll have left to worry about is paying taxes and raising kids. “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value” ~ Albert Einstein.

47 Charlie November 19, 2010 at 10:11 am

My best advice is:

1) Look up that had/have your same “shortcomings”, such as being thin or having little facial hair, and you’ll notice that many manly men had qualities which might have otherwise not have been deemed as manly. From this you’ll gain the understanding that it’s how a man looks that defines him; it’s what he does, and the values he stands by to defend the things he does.

2) Give back. There are few qualities that are manly than putting someone else before yourself.

48 Adam S. November 19, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Join the military.

Number 1: 8-10 weeks of boot camp. You’ll feel more like a man upon graduation and consider this your rite of passage.

Number 2: You’ll learn to workout in boot camp, work out some more while you serve and have to stay in shape throughout your career.

Number 3: Strict guidelines to proper grooming including facial hair. So no need to worry about growing a beard or ‘stache.

At the end of your first four years you’ll feel like a man because you’ve served your country, travelled, and will probably see and do some stuff that alot of other people will never do. And the bonus when you decide to walk away, whether it’s after your first enlistment or after 20-30 years, is that you have college money sitting in your pocket.

A final word, the moment you decide you’re a man is the moment others will see you as a man. At that moment you will have made the concious effort and it will show in your confidence and in the way you act, walk and talk.

Good luck!

49 Wes November 20, 2010 at 12:33 am

Try to have a little perspective on the whole thing. I’d be happy if I didn’t have to shave every day!

50 Nicholas F November 20, 2010 at 12:45 am

Wow, this community is great, fabulous answers from all of the above.

I graduated from high school short and scrawny. But my journey to manhood was not harmed by that. At once I realized that I had to focus on the things I could change, and my height and stature was not one of them.

I got involved in sports (even though I had never been coordinated through high school) and am still involved now. I have participated in two triathlons, play soccer over the summer and hockey in the winter, regularly exercise on my own and love staying fit. And I just did my first deer hunt this fall (a great opportunity to associate with other men).

Immerse yourself in the world of manly men. Read manly books, which will in turn help you have a good head on your shoulders and take part manly conversations. Be humble enough to learn and to do your time sitting through meetings you might not fully understand or slogging through daily chores on your job you may not enjoy. Nearly every successful man out there has had to “do his time” and work his way up in the world.

And give back. As AOM always repeats, being a man is about receiving less and giving more. This happens at home, on the job, with friends, in the community. In addition to my job and my university studies, I also teach at a local college and would never hesitate to drop everything to help a friend in need (sometimes to the chagrin of my wife), whether helping someone move or just having a coffee with a guy who needs to talk or get something off his chest. I feel so satisfied knowing every hour of my day is spent for others, and not myself.

And yes, down the line, a mature relationship will increase your feeling of manliness. I feel so honoured just days after my 30th birthday, to be married to the woman of my dreams and be expecting our first child in a few days. I am sure that will be a whole new chapter in the journey of manhood… one that I look forward to embracing!

I hope this helps.

51 Simon Frez-Albrecht November 20, 2010 at 5:12 pm

I’m 19, and have 7 facial hairs growing on my chin. Because of this (and family history), I suspect I’ll grow another 1-2 inches before I’m done. At 6’2″, the thought of getting taller is not one that I’m particularly thrilled about.

Accomplishing things is one great way to feel empowered and confident in yourself. I took up running about 3 years ago, simply because my friends were joining track in highschool, and I figured I would go along with it. As far as I know, I’m the only one among us that has ever run outside of scheduled practices, which I do because I enjoy the feeling of freedom and accomplishment it gives me. It also allows me to eat a lot more than I could otherwise. Running has made me strong, mentally and physically. I once ran 30 miles by myself, just to see if I could. I was very undertrained, having been running no more than 20-30 miles a week for 8+ weeks. I was able to do the whole thing, though my slow hobble at the end almost doesn’t count as a run. Now whenever I look at a task, I say to myself “remember how long it took, and how painful it was? This isn’t half as bad. Stop slacking and put your back into it!” Physically, regular running makes your whole body stronger. Legs most noticeably, but when you use your arms to pump yourself up a series of hills, or when your core is engaged for a 2 hour run, you are strengthening muscles all over. I rarely lift weights (I prefer bodyweight exercises), but I know that I can stand up and walk around with 200 pounds on my shoulders.

I also enjoy camping, greenwood working, making jewelry, and various other hobbies in the same vein.

One way that I make goals for myself is not so much in making a list, but I have a sort of imaginary man in my head, comprised of all the best traits of the best men I’ve met. Some things are physical, but most are mannerisms, habits, and personality traits that I find admirable. I frequently take stock of what I have been doing recently, and compare my actions and thoughts to those of the imaginary man. If I find any large disparities, I do what I can to correct myself.

52 G9 November 21, 2010 at 9:06 am

I totally agree with Brett’s advice on a rite of passage. It seems young men go from being protected & guided to having a massive amount of expectations & responsibilities dumped on them almost overnight (be it on their 18th birthday, high school graduation or upon entering college). But there is no tangible or defining moment, which often leads to confusion about what is expected of them.

In college, one of my more major research papers was on Initiations, Rituals and Rites of Passage in Modern America. From what I learn, the key defining characteristics that added meaning to the experience were the tangibility & exclusivity of the act they went through and the behavior of others towards them AFTER the event. Whether it was graduation from basic training for the armed services, fraternity ‘traditions’, graduation from college or becoming a ‘Made’ member of the Mafioso, all significant & reportedly meaningful rites of passage were defined by the aforementioned characteristics and the privileges they were allotted after completion. There was a direct correlation between the harshness & difficulty of the ritual and the satisfactory feeling that followed. Sadly, as Brett said, traditional rituals that can act as a rite of passage in a man’s life have been weaned out of our culture. In an article titled “Boys Will Be Boys” by David Olshine, it is said that “many people cannot identify when they became an adult”.

You should worry less about how others see you and more about how you see and carry yourself. A way to ‘feel’ more like a man is to challenge yourself and push your personal limits both physically and mentally. Once you a victorious in this endeavor, you will look at yourself in a new light and carry yourself with more confidence and less apprehension about who you are.

53 james November 21, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Just be a good person and treat ppl with respect.

54 Ben November 21, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Several things which could help:
A sense of acomplishment, in anything, can help a man feel more like a Man. There is always merit in making a work you can be proud of. In this sense a kind of craft is the most logical choice. Blacksmithing is an excellent option.
Phsycal activity releases endorphines which would just make you feel ‘more’. Their effect on the male body added with testosterone will make you feel like a man. Good ideas – A violent martial art (when compared with kong-fu), horseback riding, or weightlifting. Now, I know a puffy body doesn’t make a man, but moving havy weights helps feel like one. It makes the crocodile part of the brain all happy an energetic, so try out powerlifting (the Starting Strength program is excellent).
Finally, you can always join the army. Even if it woulf be horrible, it gives a sense of purpose, of being part of someting greater, and has the ability to chew you and spit you out as a better man, whether you like it or not.

55 Angel November 22, 2010 at 9:46 am

I often feel most masculine when I have good posture. In my opinion, it does not matter the build of the man, but the stature of the man that denotes masculinity. I try to remember to not slouch, have my chin up, shoulder back and chest out. That usually boosts my confidence a bit. Another thing is just falsely projecting confidence. “Fake it until you make it,” usually works when you are feeling less confident as a man. It keeps you in the mode of surety an again projects that you are a confident individual. After a while, you wont need to “fake it till you make it” because it will be second nature.

56 Ian November 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm

I would suggest having your great adventure. Go out to the woods or do a road trip. This adventure can be used as your goodbye to feeling like a boy.

57 Vaughn November 22, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I can remember feeling this exact same way. I was a senior in college, job hunting, beginning to shop for a more mature, job-market ready wardrobe when I began to realize that despite my feeling like it, I was beginning to function in a noticeably more mature way. Simply noticing that my actions were becoming gradually more mature was not enough however, to make me feel like the man I was undoubtedly becoming. It wasn’t until a string of events took place in early 2009 that I really began to perceive myself differently.
1) My car broke down. All on my own, using only what I’d learned growing up watching dad repair the family mini-van, I diagnosed the issue down to a blown alternator, bought a second battery, and limped the car 60 miles home where I repaired it myself while my dad was out of town on Business.
2) I graduated from College. It was the final step that solidified my enterance into the “real world” and I’ll never forget the feeling I had when my dad and grandfather shook my hand and addressed me “Congratulations Mr. Johnson”
3) I was hired. By a Fortune 500 corporation, given a dress code, business cards, a corporate blackberry, and salary. Along with a 60 hour work week and all the stress of being “the new guy”, lets keep it in perspective.

Those three things took place all in a matter of two months and catapulted my perception of myself from boyhood, to that of manliness. I know each were fairly circumstantial and it cannot be assumed others will have the same fortune (or misfortune as it were) but I hope it provides at least a glimmer of hope that with time, and when that time is right, the transition to manliness may just reveal itself.

58 FM Jump November 25, 2010 at 11:42 am

Spend time with other men that inspire you. Know what you stand for and your confidence will be based on that. Men can read that. Its an unspoken language. Boys have not developed any real core values that they are willing to fight for yet.
Also, if you are unfit, just get your body in shape enough to look like you would be a challenge in a fight. This will give you physical presence and confidence.
Finally, Dont panic, be prepared to take up the slack wherever needed, dont complain, realize that leadership is all about service. Be prepared to serve and respect will follow.

59 Euthorian November 27, 2010 at 7:46 pm

The truth is, being a man (or any kind of mature adult, for that matter) is mostly communicated by being confident and capable, especially under pressure. You can partially train that ability through going to the gym, practicing martial arts, learning a new skill, learning a new language, reading new books, etc., but the main way to do it is to challenge yourself.

In other words, do things that terrify you. Seek out those things which make you uncomfortable even to consider. Push yourself to the very limit, and your limits expand. Conquering your fear instills a certain level of fearlessness that, even in the absence of all other so-called “manly” traits (appearance, facial hair, musculature), will make you seem far more a man than the majority of untested individuals around you.

60 Dan November 29, 2010 at 3:20 pm

FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT. Feigning confidence is a great way to build confidence, you will be amazed at how well recieved you are. but dont be cocky, or rude, nobody likes that. Go to a party where you only know 1 person, and try to talk to every single person at the party, about whatever they are interested in. everyone loves attention, and the more you give, the more you’ll get.

61 Dan November 29, 2010 at 3:22 pm

and always dress how you want people to view you. you only have one chance at a first impression, and the clothes really do make the man!

62 Christofer November 29, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Guys, I feel you. I’m a senior in high school and it was extremely tough watching everyone else around me have bigger bodies and stronger muscles or even bigger brains. The best thing I could tell you is that when you open a door for a lady, or you stop or back away from a fight, you become the bigger man because if you look around, no other guy is doing what you do because they are still boys. BEING A MAN IS HAVING INTEGRITY AND COURAGE, NOT BIG MUSCLES OR BEARDS. Watch the guys around you and see if they can step up to the plate like you do.

63 Trent C December 1, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I’ll agree with pretty much everything that has been said. I’m turning 20 in February, and I’ve recently been caught up in this “transition” myself. I still don’t always feel 100% like a man versus a boy, but I’ve got some time to finish growing up. I’ve never been scrawny because I tend to stay around 170-180lbs, but I did find that lifting weights did a lot for my self-confidence. I picked up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and I love it. It definitely helps. Something about men makes us like to fight others, and I think martial arts are a fairly safe and acceptable way to help with that. I cannot agree more with learning to do things for yourself. I remember when I was younger, the first thing I would do when I had a problem was call my dad. I always felt like he could solve anything, and I still do. But part of growing up meant solving problems for myself instead of having my dad solve them. If I have a problem, I’m going to try it myself (provided it’s not too terribly dangerous) before I resort to Dad. If I can’t do it, fine; I’ll cave on that. That tends to help me feel like a man. I think one of those qualities that my dad possessed that I loved was that he is a hard worker and doesn’t think twice about helping people, so I tried to emulate those qualities and I’m getting better at it. Volunteer in your community, learn a skill, or pick up a manly hobby. I don’t mean if you’re 18 you’ve gotta pick up something your grandpa might do, but maybe try building something or learning to work on a car. Pick up public speaking because it builds confidence. Write something. I wrote a novel that’s going through being published. Pick up an instrument. I’ve done piano but I wanted something more manly so I take drum lessons and I love it. Guitar works too. These people have great advice, and I’d take a look at what they have to say.

64 Matt May 13, 2013 at 4:03 pm

We Jewish people aren’t famous for being brawny and burly (although there are many Jews are definitely are), so we have had to adapt over thousands of years to our own definition of manliness: This involved literacy, the ability to analyze, ambition and success at the workplace, and stubbornness.
Websites like the AoM are handy however because they teach us all the little rules and tips and tricks to get through life day by day. In conjunction with the aspirational and moral values of ones culture or tradition, AoM seems to be able to teach us all the little things that add up to something substantial: How to be assertive and focused, organized and handy. For someone like me, those last three things are the springboard to a better future.
Another sidenote-
There is also a “Superhero” aspect to Judaism, where “saving the world” or healing it rather, is an imperative. This concept is surprisingly secular, in the sense that fixing the world doesn’t involve evangelical bouts of converting the masses, but rather it involves fighting injustice and inequality regardless of religious or cultural barriers. It’s no coincidence that some of our favorite superheros in American culture- Batman, Superman, and Spiderman, were the brainchildren of Jewish comic book writers. Such creations are indicative of motivations with the Jewish unconscious and surely the same applies to countless non-Jews.

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