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The Man Card

(This post is from Roger Mann.)
I hear this concept every now and again as part of some joke. For me it’s no joke. I understand what they are talking about, but I’m sure I don’t have one and don’t have a clue as to how to get one. Dad never taught me how to dress, how to play sports, how to shave, or anything else but to shut up. Children were to be seen and not heard.

I began elementary schooling wondering what it was all about, being a boy that is. I had all the right equipment but no clue as to what to do with it all. How do you make your legs run and not look stupid? How do you throw a ball and not look like a girl? How do you keep from flinching when a ball is thrown your way so you can catch it like you know what you’re doing?

How do you not react like some little baby when you fall and hurt yourself? Most of this stuff I learned by watching others and risked looking like an idiot trying to imitate their skills. As I went through the educational system learning my math, English, and science, I was constantly in a state of anxiety trying to pretend my “man card” was fully legit and endorsed.

I thought after I graduated from high school that I was finally finished with the game of “am I just as good.” But as I got into the work place, the rules changed once again, and I was on edge once more trying to figure out this thing of being a grown-up man. Of course, there was the sex thing too, which now complicated an already complicated navigation. Now I had to pretend I knew what that was all about. So here comes the eyeroll, the nudge, the grin, the “oh yeah, I know what you mean there, buddy.”

I didn’t know what they meant—not really—and I ached, feeling all the more exposed.

It has taken me a long time and a lot of stupid mistakes and bad choices to realize most of them were as clueless as I was. I shunned many a potential good friend because I didn’t want anyone to find out how clueless I really was.


Noah Alvarenga said...

This post really resonates with me. I've always carried around a fear, whether when I was 10 years old back in my old church trying to just be with the other boys or even now the feeling lingers when I'm with guys who are "manlier" than me. I love camping, hiking, biking, mud races, I work construction, I'm a manager at my job, hit the gym, do most of my own car maintenance, carry a knife, and do all those manly things, but... Other guys have that confidence in themselves. They don't seem as scared as I am when I have to act like I know what I'm doing as a nearly 21-year-old guy. A good example of this feeling is when some friends of mine would challenge me to a game of pool and I used to turn it down because I knew I wasn't good at pool and if they saw me play this "manly" game... My man card would be put on hold, even taken away. I want to fight against this fear of having to prove myself of having a man card. Last year, my dad, 2 younger brothers and I used to play pool on weekends, even eventually getting our own table for at home--Im still not great, but just exposing myself to the game more has helped me fight the fear. It sounds silly, but God has worked in me that games like this don't cause the same anxiety and fear as they used to. Now, I will play pool--sometimes I win, more often I lose, However, now I can learn. Not only just the game, but I can further learn that my identity and my "man card" are things that come from God, not from hitting billiards.

Roger Mann said...

High school was a disaster for me. I was terrible at almost everything. Then one day I was watching some guys in the quad where we had tables to eat outdoors when the weather was nice. For several reasons I won't go into I was watching fairly intently their faces. I had a huge
'ah ho' moment. While they laughed and joked around I could see at various times and in different faces the same fear and insecurity that I had. I was shocked. They were just as insecure as I was and these were the "clique' I had observed all year.

I felt a huge weight life as I realized I don't have be intimated by them. They don't even care about me, they are too busy worried about how they look, how they come across to even notice me. High school was never the same. Oh there were others that intimated the hell out of me but those guys? Never again.

What I didn't realize and forgot at some point, is that you are absolutely right. God gave me my man card and that is how he sees me. How he has always seen me. He's my real dad and he loves me.