2/27/15

Saved By The ‘Man-Box’



True strength is when you have a lot to cry about, but you choose to smile and take another step forward instead.
C.Tang
(Before we even start, this post goes out to every man who has endured the pain of been away from his family for whatever reason and to every man who has stood like a rock by his family during the darkest times. You define what being a man is.)

If you have spent any time looking over motivational articles or heard some pseudo life expert, they will call out the quaint “Break free from the box” cliché, how men need to step out of the man box that holds them back. They will continue going on with a rant as how the ‘Man-Box’ only serves as a prison for men.

When asked what the Man-Box is, each of them goes into a different explanation with the only common thread being “it’s bad.” Ironically, and the main reason why I can’t agree with them, they want men to break free from the Man-Box only if you then fit into the box they have carefully laid out for you.

Break free from your preconceptions just as long as you fit into my preconceptions.

I’m going to reframe from printing what my reply would be to avoid being vulgar. And my main problem with this mentality is that way to many times I have seen men stand strong thanks to the very ‘Man-Box’ so many condemn.

I have seen a brother, relocated far away, smiling and laughing while skyping with their 6 year old daughter, only to break down right after they log off. I have seen a deployed brother telling his fiancé how it was an uneventful day, when he a few hours earlier he almost lost his life. I have seen a brother kiss his wife and say that everything will be alright, when five minutes earlier her doctor told him how her cancer was terminal. I have seen a brother happily play with a son who will never know his father’s challenges. I have seen a brother tell his mother how everything goes well, when she no longer remembers what day it is.

I have said before in several occasions that a man must know when to ask for help, ask for a helping hand. But there are times when you are the rock for someone to hold on to hope and happiness. There are times when you must swallow your own pain and your own suffering, to lessen the suffering of those you love. THAT was the lesson that was taught to me as a young man of what a man really is. And to this day, that is the measuring stick I use to determine the worth of any man.

Those that condemn the ‘Man-Box’ fail to understand one very important thing. Each man creates his own box. And by doing so, they don’t create a prison, but an armor to help them deal with a world that can be both, beautiful and horrible. So as you set off into the world, make sure you don’t end up fitting into anyone else’s box, but rather create your own. Just make sure it’s one that empowers you and gives you the strength to help those around you stand proud of you being in their lives.