This article is part of a continuing commentary to this article: (http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2014/04/08/5-reasons-religious-millennials-arent-marrying/31633) Reason three is that “Men are acting like boys” and aren’t growing up.
Yes, in a sense this is definitely true. It’s one of the various reasons why I started this blog in the first place. Wonderful, awesome, manly things are always awesome. (yes, manly things include plays and poetry, and I will punch anybody who disagrees with me.) But the fact is that, for a lot of us, growing up and being mature and on our own is just something that we can’t do, currently. I would say, however, that this means a couple of different things; maturity anymore doesn’t necessarily mean “you’ve moved out of your parent’s house” anymore, for example. We’re acting like boys in a number of different ways, and, as much as I hate to admit it, in some cases women are acting like girls too; this is not just a problem about men.
We end up becoming petty, shallow, and prone to quick judgement. The idea of instant gratification also has bruised us; if the person we want rejects us, we end up all butthurt about it and whiny, instead of simply sucking it up and moving on after a reasonable period of time like we should. We end up whining when we don’t get what we want. In some cases, knowledge is being lost, or ignored; manly things that culture tells us we should be doing are stuff that we’re not interested in. (For instance, I have no interest in cars, but the fact of the matter there is also I simply don’t really understand how they work. They’re magic, and might as well run on fairydust for all I can comprehend.)
I would argue though, that while this is seen as men being boylike, it really isn’t–but even so, culture tells us that as men we need to be interested in such things to keep our “man-card” (I lost mine once it was discovered i knew what color fuschia was and decided that I actually liked quiche), and the culture of what counts for a man affects both genders.) In a sense, yes, we’re not growing up. We also often find that we have unrealistic expectations about the people we want to be with—and how we’ll meet them, and when someone doesn’t fit these modes, sometimes we’ll ignore them becuase they don’t fit our imagined ideals.
Perhaps we’re more coddled than previous generations? I don’t really know, but the fact of the matter is that life has been pretty good to us, and when we’re finally on our own making our own decisions, we often find that we suck at it, and therefore get mad at ourselves. Why? Because we expect that we’ll be perfect. When we can’t get perfect, we get fustrated and churlish, and it is this attitude, I think, that is the real issue about men being like boys. We need to shape up. The world isn’t perfect, and we can’t be perfect, but we can aim to be better. When bad things happen, we need to be proactive about fixing the problems, if we can. And half of the way of fixing them, I would argue, is attitude. We need to take responsibility for our actions.
We’re not as ambitious as we could be, because it’s dangerous to be ambitious these days, when we are up to our eyeballs in debt. We simply can’t be ambitious. We can’t afford crazy business ventures. In a sense, this forces us to play everything safe financially, and when we’re playing things safe in that aspect, we tend to play everything safe. It’s harder for us to grow up and cut all the strings when doing so may leave us homeless or on the street. But you can still be a man and live with your parents. You can still be a badass, and prefer a nice sangiovese rosé over an IPA. It’s all in the attitude. Confidence is key, and this is something that I have noticed that a lot of males I know lack. To be confident, is to be manly. (I would say the same is true for women, as well. Confidence in general is rather attractive. It’s how I know that you’re worthy.)
So how do you act like a man? It’s not so much about being able to work on a car, or paint an icon, or write poetry, or change your oil, or play a sport, or smoke a pipe, or being able to distinguish a Cabernet Sauvignon from a Cabernet Franc. It’s about being confident in yourself, and being psychologically and spiritually mature. And in that sense, we can all use a little work.