Lean

Strength is appealing. The idea of having it, anyway. I’m not sure what draws me to it: whether it’s a baser, masculine thing, or the idea that I WANT to be strong, to be a man that someone can rely on, to be a rock in a sea of troubles.

I have a hard time admitting when I struggle, because I want to seem strong. I wasn’t the hard-bodied Greek god, so I had to make it up in other ways. I’d see men in movies, see my father, not giving an inch under pressure, stone-faced under daunting trials, and think to myself, ‘I want to be that’. But I didn’t understand what it meant to be that way.

Strength comes in many forms, and it took me a while to figure that out. I had to see my own weakness and acknowledge it, not hide from it. Sometimes being stone-faced wasn’t right, when my insides were churning, when it was hiding from the fear and struggle rather than facing it.

Being a thinker, someone who remembers, my weaknesses stay with me. Sometimes the fear, the uncertainty, built up to a point where I couldn’t take it, and I would break down, with friends, or family, letting it all come out in a flood, so much that I or them couldn’t take it. I’m so grateful for my family, who supported me in my uncertain moments.

I still feel my anxiety, my want to be stronger. So when I can be a rock for someone, it’s something I can appreciate, something I understand better because of my own experiences. Strength is not necessarily being stone-faced and not reacting, the unemotional, uncaring action stars of yore. But facing my weaknesses, knowing where I struggle, helps me to understand it, makes it less daunting.

I can’t make it all go away, though. The urge to be a protector, a provider, will always be there, as someone who wants to be a man. I’m understanding why I feel that way, and what can make me good at it. If I know my weaknesses, they don’t scare me as much.

You can lean on me, because in my weakness, I have found strength.

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One thought on “Lean

  1. halejon

    I like this a lot. Says a lot of truth about the desire and appeal to embody the best of what ‘strength’ in a male context means, without totally buying into the stiff-upper-lip, unfeeling and unfailing archetype that is often presented as its only possible expression. I don’t think it’s a base impulse at all unless you buy into all the ridiculous macho bullshit that simply denies all weaknesses or failures and is an impostor for real strength, which can only come from personal understanding and experience and unflinching honesty with one’s self. In that sense, strength can be the perfect combination of what you’ve learned from your role models, what you’re naturally good at, and what you can provide in a stressful situations for others — and feel pride for doing so. Ain’t nuthin’ wrong with that.

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