Despite What the Society Says, I am a Man

“I am a man.”
It took a lot of struggle, growing, learning, patience, tears and years to accept this. When I did accept myself finally, I always tried seeing myself as those teenage boys who have a dusky look, broad shoulders, sharp jaw line, a little bit of mustache; but I wasn’t growing up like that and I realized how my hands had so less hair, and my face full of wrong implementation of skin everywhere. And the height that never let me stand tall as other men in the society did. I hated looking into the mirror.
I have always seen in pictures, photos, depictions in my school book that the man is taller, stronger than woman. I always thought it is how a man should be- big, large, tall and strong. They should hold the family. Oh no, they hold the family.
Yes, I felt inferior.
I always wanted to be them, but I wasn’t them.
Yes I fancied wearing clothes similar to what my dad did but that doesn’t make me man. Does it?
I have seen my mother cooking my favourite delicacies every alternate day. But, I have also seen my dad cooking my favourite food sometimes. How am I now going to understand what gender role is?
I mean my dad shouldn’t wash my clothes, shouldn’t cook food for mom and me but that’s what he did. That was what my mother was supposed to do.
5 years back, I came out to a school friend who was my best friend then. He told me I didn’t know how to cross the road, I shouted like a girl. Nobody told me “like a girl” is offensive. He also said a man is not like me who doesn’t know how to cross the road. The fault is mine, I actually didn’t know then. He said he loved riding bikes, even my dad did and all the male counterparts in my family did too, but I didn’t.
Here, I was standing with my existential crisis and at another point I was also wondering what can exactly make me a Man? I don’t even know the common ethics of a man. I never knew I should pull the chair as a sign of etiquette when I went on a date with the girl next door.
I mean was it included in the list that actually enables me to call myself as “the man”? That was the only time we went on a date too.
One of my relatives once said, “You can never be a man, you don’t have that thing.” The next 6 weeks went in me trying to know “the thing”.
How can a thing decide if I am a man?
I shrugged that feeling away by thinking maybe I am crazy and there is a thing that is necessary to make me feel, what I already do. And it is just a phase. My definition of masculinity shifted from me accepting myself to people and them having attributes that must corroborate to what they feel about me.
I am a man, and I still think about it. Am I?
It was in the year 2014 when I shifted to a hostel in my home town. I was always a clean freak person. And seeing that my roommate told me I could never be a man. No boy is a clean freak, no boy loves shopping. It is necessary for a man to stay messier to fit into the gender.
Maybe, she was right. I have something very wrong with me, I loved going for shopping and buying random things and that is not allowed if you are a man. A perspective of masculinity is very narrow and with very less space, and cleaning the room doesn’t fall into it.
Maybe it is an age for me to go for rides, travel the world, love junk food, date girls. But here I am, desperately wanting my mother’s hand made food, crying over any random movie and rather busy sleeping than planning for rides. I still don’t know how to ride a bike, not because I am less of a man but because I don’t care. I love to stay in the kitchen and serve rather than get served. And trust me my masculinity doesn’t even sit there with me.
I thought to hit the gym a few months back and I did. Seven days later I knew I couldn’t see myself in those push-ups and pull ups anymore, I never liked it, I was doing it to fit in the norms, I was doing it to be familiar. But that wasn’t me, and also that shouldn’t be how things need to be. I am still a man. I still consider myself one.
I know I am the ordinary guy next door, but how to not love yourself in a world as huge as this? How to question yourself where to stand when you already know you are there in the podium and you have no way to escape?
Now, every time I see a mirror, I see myself quite lean and very pale unlike the one I wanted to be before. But, I have stopped blaming the mirror. Rather, it is the mirror that showed me the true self. If it would have been this society at its place, I am sure I won’t have found myself anyway.
Ritwik Dutta