For this particular post, I will share some of my own personal experience which may have biases and may not entirely apply across the board but they are my experiences and I know that many people also went through the same.
I struggled with this growing up. I often felt like I am not on track to being a man especially because there seemed to be certain things which society had prescribed as an initiation to manhood which I totally wasn’t doing. While we were teenagers and young adults, if you hadn’t gone to club, smoked, done drugs, taken alcohol, had sex, had a girlfriend, you were hardly a man. I later realized that these are also adolescent hormones at work but my problem is how they affect perceptions of what being a man is.
This went on even up to university. I didn’t have a girlfriend till my mid-twenties way after campus. One of my of my lady friends while at campus asked “Did the Sheep knock you?” this was an insinuation that I didn’t have the capacity be sexually active even if I wanted to – everybody else was doing it, why didn’t I do it? My not having a girlfriend wasn’t for lack of trying – the people I liked didn’t feel the same way and in retrospect, we weren’t on the same page. I now realize I was too serious while some of them wanted to play around. These were like initiations to manhood and also separated the cool from the “uncool” so according to society, I was uncool for the first quarter of my life and wasn’t on track on the journey to being a man.
I consider myself a good and loveable person. So you would think that girls would be all over me right? Yes! Right, they were all over me but not the ones I wanted. Right next door were the “Bad boys” who had all the ladies I desired. They were liars, players and all the bad things you can think of but this seemed to make them more attractive to the ladies. After their hearts had been crushed, they would run straight to me. Anyway, soon we were done with University and life moved on.
After university, there was pressure on a whole new level. First was the rat race to financial freedom. And in this race the end justifies the means. Riches and wealth was to be obtained at all costs. Aspects like hard work and patience didn’t help much. This is exacerbated by the expectations upon us as men. Even having a girlfriend was either an investment or expenditure as one would have to spend on dates, hair, gifts among others. A few years after University, a man is expected to build a house, drive a car and live a particular lavish lifestyle with no regard to where he gets the money to finance this lifestyle. Whether he steals, or leaves beyond his means, it all doesn’t matter as long as he has money.
We have now become the “One-Two-Three-Four” (1 2 3 4) generation. A man in today’s society marries One wife, has Two children, builds a Three bed roomed house and cruises a 4-wheel drive. It’s like the Ugandan dream. This isn’t bad in and of itself but to make it a global standard is wrong especially because being a man is more than achieving the above. Unfortunately or fortunately my dreams are bigger than the Ugandan dream and I can’t accept society define the man I want to be.
I aspire to be a better man than this. I aspire first to be a good citizen, then a good son, a good brother and friend, a good husband and father. I cannot achieve this if define myself as the man society wants me to be.