Body-Conscious, Insecure, Emotional…Male.

Bravado is a curious thing when it comes to some men. It’s like our philosophy for life – don’t ever let people see the truth, bury your weaknesses in the deepest, darkest corner of your being and ultimately just pretend everything is OK. Men have struggled to show their cracks for centuries now, but why? Is it the way we are brought up? Are we too concernedย with maintaining a presence of strength, power and masculinity? Whatever the reasons I’ll let you in on a little secret – it’s mostly a load of rubbish.

My Dad was from a very working class background. Super tough and never one to be messed with. He was brought up fighting in a poverty stricken area of Glasgow. His best trait? The ability to throw a good punch. A man of many jobs he was a butcher, a baker, a window cleaner, a mechanic and a soldier before retiring with the emergency services. He was what I would call the true definition of a man’s man. My Dad did however have very poor hearing and yet point blank refused to wear a hearing aid. My family knew this would make our lives a lot easier, for him because he could actually hear properly and for us because we would no longer have to shout all the time (the neighbours mistake our shouting for aggression). Still, he would never wear it and avoided the subject at all costs. But why? Inconvenience? Laziness? Not at all, in his eyes it was a sign of weakness that he didn’t want others to see. Even the toughest of old boots can have their insecurities it seems.

At 29 I get by OK without too many problems. I’m very lucky, not because I think highly of myself but because over time I have learned to fully accept who and what I am.ย Over the years I’ve been described by people as confident, funny, a bit cheeky and a real people person who can chat away to just about anyone. But what was going on in my head was a very different story.

My honest assessment of myself went something like this: crooked nose, funny shaped head, squint teeth, 13866734_1059985577383766_821057246_ndouble chin, oversized brow bone, too skinny, sticky out ears (one of which is higher than the other), over emotional and deep down a bit shy. This was how I saw myself without exaggeration and as much as I’d like to think I’ve made the most of myself, the majority of those things are still true today. The only thing that’s changed, is my attitude.

A lot of men both young and old, suffer with similar self-criticisms on a daily basis but often bury them behind a mask of jokes, arrogance, over-confidence, sarcasm, rudeness and basically anything that will hide the reality going on in their heads.

In my youth, I found accepting my ears to be an endless struggle. I would stare in the mirror for hours analysing them. One day after school I tried to stick them to the side of my head with double-sided tape just to see what they would look like flat – much to the amusement of my Mum I might add. I would also wear tight beanie hats to bed and hope that if I pressed my head hard enough against my pillow my ears would in time, stick to my head. Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous?

At the age of 18 I grew my hair long. It fitted in well with the whole indie and later emo culture, but in truth I’d grown my hair long to cover up my ears. The funny thing is, my ears aren’t even that bad (check my photos). I was just a paranoid, insecure, adolescent who was still growing into himself.
maxresdefault (1)Being skinny, that was another problem. I was a cross-country runner for many years which made it virtually impossible to put weight on. Even on the hottest of days, I would wear three t-shirts just to add a little extra bulk. I find it hilarious that my intention was to give myself the tiniest shred of self-approval, when in reality I was just a plonker in three t-shirts on a sunny day. All those t-shirts and my ears taped to my head! Can you imagine if I’d had my way?

Showing emotion is another touchy subject for men. Being emotional is actually one of the few things I genuinely love about myself. I find that if I allow myself the opportunity to really feel something then I can experience life’s moments in their fullest capacity. Don’t get me wrong, in the past I’ve mustered a tear or two for some pretty trivial things including football, home improvement shows and on one occasion even just looking at the moon! (Don’t ask). But for every cheesy American TV show there were emotional goodbyes, breathtaking scenery and the marriage of close friends – times when showing emotion served to enhance a life-long memory.

One of my close Australian friends is another of the ‘real men’ in my life. He’s from a very male dominated family and enjoys the simplicity of fishing, rugby, beer and his dog. I lived with him for a few months on my travels and at a time when he was going through some real personal turmoil. He wasn’t the type to talk about his feelings, but it was clear to see he needed to. I discreetly probed for weeks on end, gently encouraging him to open up and on a few occasions there was the tiniest glimmer of hope, but each time he clicked on to what he was about to do and promptly shut off.

He moved in circles that didn’t allow much room for emotions, it just wasn’t very ‘manly’. I really wantedrowan_atkinson_actor_tuxedo_gray-haired_brooding_27333_3840x2400 him to know that I was there for him, that I would listen without judgement and help him in any way I could, but it was all to no avail. I still wish today he would see the benefits of just, talking.

British actor Rowan Atkinson once said “I like to walk in the rain, no one can see me cry.” I think some men are starting to improve when it comes to showing emotion, it honestly is such a release to just let go and really feel something. And no it doesn’t mean falling to your knees and bursting into tears and it doesn’t make you weak, just human. Why wait for the rain to come?

I hope from this post women can gain a slightly better understanding of why men are the way they are sometimes, not because I excuse certain behaviours but simply to raise awareness…awareness that behind every arrogant pig there is a 12 year old boy standing in front of a mirror trying to tape his ears to the side of his head.


40 thoughts on “Body-Conscious, Insecure, Emotional…Male.

  1. Thanks for being vulnerable. I really enjoyed reading your post. I now feel less annoyed by these discombobulated men I seem to be attracting. Best wishes!

  2. Beautifully written. I really liked this one. For some reason something tells me American men are progressing faster throughout the years than the average European dudes when it comes to emotions. I’ve dated at least three gentlemen that I can remember who had no shame in tearing up at “A Walk to Remember” …which made me chuckle a little on the inside…but was also very sweet ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I’ve known a lot of people who think of women as these open and openly emotional people, especially in comparison to men. In some cases that may be true; but in my own experience I have a hard time letting people , even my closest friends, see me vulnerable and shut down quite easily. I also absolutely hate when people want to help me – I don’t know why; it’s something I’m working on overcoming. Actually, the older I get the more I realize all these ideas we have about how women and men act are completely wrong. Just like you say men are actually emotional, well, depending on the woman, some women are actually incredibly closed off. More than you would ever think. (I could go into a feminist spiel on how historically women’s emotions were viewed as unacceptable, often being labeled as a psychologist disorder, hysteria; but I will not flood your comments with this.)

    Either way, I guess what I’m trying to do is reaffirm your blog because I find it incredibly culturally relevant. And I like anything that reminds us that when it comes down to it, we’re all just human.

    1. Thanks for reading you make some great points, obviously not everyone is the same but there’s certainly a long-standing perception of men and women out there which is perhaps now out of date. Really appreciate your thoughts.

  4. Thanks for another great post! The last line- not to excuse but to raise awareness was great. If only we were all just a bit kinder and more thoughtful to each other. My younger brother is another very emotional guy and has struggled a lot through insecurities- certainly made me realize that even the most confident on the outside have often only achieved that through sheer force of will and practice, confidence isn’t always just given.

    1. Thank you so much, I always appreciate your comments. I’ve put myself out there a bit with this one some guys might think I’m being a little too honest and giving the game away but that’s always been my intention for the blog. I’ve known a few people with crippling shyness that really stalled their life for many years and so I think sometimes with guys confidence becomes almost mandatory to allow themselves to develop as a person and really transition into manhood. Most of us get there in the end but there’s always a few exceptions ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. It’s amazing to me that even as a man, your friend struggled to open up to you. In a way it makes me feel a little bit better about my current situation with someone, but it is still pretty frustrating, and it’s interesting to see that even though you can relate to each other more, you still hold back. But I think that has a lot to do with just being human in general. Thank you for the insight; it’s a nice reminder that the little 12-year-old boys are still hiding in there.

    1. Hey really glad you enjoyed it and thanks for reading. I think guys once they do open up they can’t stop because they’ve held it in so long it’s just trying to get them to open up in the first place. I hope your situation works out ok give me a shout if you ever need any advice ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. oh my goodness I almost burst out laughing at the point where you talked about taping your ears. women are self conscious too, especially at that puberty-esque time in our lives. I had a hearing aid from age 5 to 12, when I got to middle school I completely refused to wear it. My mom was all concerned and had meetings with my teachers to make sure their seating plans had me positioned closer to the front of the room. that just made me more self-conscious. Why can’t I be like everybody else, I remember thinking. Now, I’m just as awkward and self-conscious but I think I’ve learned to hide it better, as an adult.

  7. Excellent post and one that has made me think a bit and there can relate to. There are things I have noticed in my journey that changed quite rapidly and purely because of gender.I have actually been told I can’t show emotion anymore as men don’t do that – which is strange because my old self was considered to be lacking in being visibly emotional. I think you are probably aware i am no supporter of the gender binary and its respective privileges and one thing I have learned from my old self is tears are good they strengthen not weaken so whether the binary rule book says it is manly or not when we need to we should cry.

    For your dad, bless him, I have hearing loss and wear an aid – it is invisible no one need know but maybe it would be worth looking into so i’ll include a link


  8. Great read! I absolutely enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for stopping by my blog, so glad I found yours. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I have faced both kind of situations with the three men in my life. My dad, has no qualms about expressing his insecurities, my younger brother on the other hand choses never to display any upsetting emotions! Where as in the case of my hubby, the scale tips more in the centre. I’ve just learned to give them space when needed!

  9. What a great post & one that everyone can relate to.
    I wear hearing aids but it took me years of having them in the drawer to eventually wearing them full time. I think when you get used to not hearing things you convince yourself that it’s okay to be that way. I hope that your dad perserveres because it really is life changing once you get past the first scary & annoying adjustment period. I remember running from the bathroom because the toilet flush was so loud! It opens up a whole new frightening world. As a 30 year old I can now hear a clock ticking – a normal thing for most but a crazy thought for me!

    1. Thank you so much for your comments I really appreciate it. I’m really happy to hear your life has improved in such a way, hearing I guess is something a lot of us take for granted. I can’t imagine my life without music for example. Thanks again for reading nice to see a fellow scot on here I haven’t seen many ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. I doubt it. But I assume if I write blank enough people will project into it, or if I add an extreme position people will attribute the passions. I know the research *shrugs* seems sound.

        Thanks dude, lovely sentiments <3

  10. Interesting, probing and revealing article. It’s true, most of the men from my childhood are like that – not at all manly to show emotions or reveal any sign of weakness. As you said, it’s changing, but very slowly.

  11. I wish my boyfriend would show a few cracks – he’s like an impregnable fortress when it comes to insecurities, which makes me look like an especially hole-y cheese in comparison. But I get the feeling that he truly doesn’t have any qualms inside that fortress -.- Unfair… Or just not as self-aware? Haha

    Do you think that the way girls tend to show more insecurities might stem from girls being (just in general!) a bit more self-conscious, prone to seeing their own flaws?


    1. That’s an interesting one, I’ve yet to come across a man who doesn’t reveal at least something after a few beers but you never know he might be an exception.

      I think girls being insecure is down to a number of things, I think there’s more pressure on women to look good than there is on men, gossip magazines don’t help and I sometimes that girls are dragged down a bit other girls, I don’t know if you’ll agree but I often find that girls can at times be very competitive with one another. Sometimes feelings of insecurity are actually brought on by those closest to them. I remember my sisters friends when she was younger they were all the closest of friends but they were so bitchy behind each other’s back.

  12. There does seem to be more pressure, in a lot of ways – down to women being expected to pluck their eyebrows, whereas it can be considered weird for a guy to bother.

    Competition and insecurity, being bred among female friends, seem all the more ironic when I think of the Cheerleader Effect.


  13. I love this article. I never could get into the “manly man” stuff. It’s so far outside of who I am that I couldn’t even fake it. I’ve ended up only being friends with girls because they’re the only people I’ve found who are willing to be close friends and emotionally open.

    By any standard other than physical appearance, I’m more feminine than masculine, so I like to say I have an androgynous brain. I often wish my physical appearance was androgynous too, but I’m trying to accept this 6′ 5″ bodybuilder-type shell of mine.

    1. Thank you Samuel that really means a lot. This is probably my favourite post I’ve written, really laid myself bare and it’s so good to know people can relate. Thanks for reading. Paul

  14. Very nice read ๐Ÿ™‚ I had a few issues of my own growing up and quite honestly, still do! I remember asking my mother to buy a tube of hair removal cream when I was about 16. She’d gone away for the weekend and as I was throwing a party, I wanted to look my best in case things for my girlfriend at the time. I guess it sounds like a normal thing to do now but for me I had a huge complex about the amount of body hair I was developing. Anyway, her & best friend turned up to the house early and let themselves in, and well, my mother only went and left the damn removal cream on the table in clear view!! Shameful…never did live it down..

  15. Very nice read ๐Ÿ™‚ I had a few issues of my own growing up and quite honestly, still do! I remember asking my mother to buy a tube of hair removal cream when I was about 16. She’d gone away for the weekend and as I was throwing a party, I wanted to look my best for my girlfriend at the time. I guess it sounds like a normal thing to do now but for me I had a huge complex about the amount of body hair I was developing. Anyway, her & best friend turned up to the house early and let themselves in, and well, my mother only went and left the damn removal cream on the table in clear view!! Shameful…never did live it down..

  16. I enjoyed reading your post and believe me I really wish you could speak for all men. I have no quarrels with what you’ve written. But no one not even myself can speak for a man I’ve been with for over 15 years. No one could because I most of the time have no friggin idea what he’s thinking. It’s a guessing game and it shouldn’t have to be.

  17. Just stumbled across your blog from Twitter. I love this post. You’re right, we all have our insecurities but I think society had conditioned us in such a way that we aren’t supposed to show them. Though, throw a few pints down my neck and I’m pouring my feelings out like they’re going outta fashion!


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