THE BLOG

Being a Man

15/11/2015 22:03 GMT | Updated 15/11/2016 10:12 GMT

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HuffPost UK is running a month-long focus around masculinity in the 21st Century, and the pressures men face around identity. To address some of the issues at hand, Building Modern Men presents a snapshot of life for men, from bringing up young boys to the importance of mentors, the challenges between speaking out and 'manning up' as well as a look at male violence, body image, LGBT identity, lad culture, sports, male friendship and mental illness.

Men.

We're hard and strong. We don't need help or feel any pain. We're brave and heroic, powerful and dominant. We control and dictate. We have penises and put them into people. We are leaders.

Only, we're not.

So many of us go about our lives hiding behind masks of decaying stereotypes and redundant expectations. We pretend to be something we're not and live a lie due to the fear of being judged for being different.

All too often we bottle things up, get instinctively defensive and grow afraid of sharing our actual thoughts and feelings. We don't want to show any sign of weakness, despite not really knowing what those weaknesses are.

Robert Smith told us crying is one, so we don't do that, unless it is alone in the shower.

In fact, we seem to assume that feelings and emotions in general are seen as weakness, regardless of their type or reason; sadness, regret, love, happiness - we can't display too much of any of them in case they're used against us. We're sometimes even reluctant to be a decent person, just in case somebody is planning on taking advantage.

And so we find ourselves in a situation where, by trying to comply with stale expectations, too many men are needlessly subjecting themselves to a lifetime of false pretence; condemning themselves to a miserable and superficial existence which plays a critical role in the fact that suicide the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK.

We simply don't share because we're scared of being judged. But we don't have to be.

We have to realise that being a man isn't pretending to be something you're not. It's not about comparing yourself to others.

You don't have to look, talk or walk a certain way. You don't have to be strong or know how to fix a shelf. You don't have to know how to fight or be able to change a tyre. A man isn't judged on how good he is at arm wrestles, a man is judged on whether or not he is a dick.

If you are the type of man who wants to go the gym, have muscles coming out of your eyebrows and tattoo your head - great. If you're the type man who wants no strings sex every weekend, drive fast cars and eat a load of meat - fine.

If you are the type of man who wants a family and kids, doesn't drink or isn't the breadwinner. If you're gay, bisexual, married, single, fat, thin, laugh, cry, love, share, worry or wear a fucking dress - it really doesn't matter.

There are no rules or expectations that any of us have to live up to.

You are who you are and that is all you are meant to be. So embrace it. Make being a man whatever you want it to be.

To blog on the site as part of Building Modern Men, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com. If you would like to read our features focused around men, click here, and for more about our partnership with Southbank Centre's Being A Man festival, click here.