Have I slept with enough women? Is my house big enough? Should I have brought the coupé instead of the 4x4? Have I done enough ‘manly' things to justify my existence?
These are the questions many men have been second guessing for generations, particularly when faced with the realisation that perhaps their most fertile years are behind them. However, whilst men of today appear to be living longer, the societal expectation we face nowadays is putting more and more pressure to on us to live up to the modern day stereotype of what a husband/father/man should be.
The problem men are faced with is that we rarely focus on what we want our own life to look like, instead opting to live up to other people’s expectations of us.
How is it that our accomplishments are marginalised and mistakes magnified?
I personally know a guy who, nearing 40, brought in a sprint trainer to coach him leading up to his daughter's school sports day. How fucked up…I mean, ‘dedicated' is that? Back in my day, it was as much as my old man could do to take his fag out his mouth when competing in the egg and spoon race.
I’m not sure whether it’s commitment or cause for concern. But, what I do know is, he took action not because he wanted to, but because he felt immense pressure not to let his family down. That’s on top of paying the mortgage, taking the family on exotic holidays, hitting targets at work and, last but by no means least, finding purpose in his own life.
Life as we know it
Typically for men, our goal is survivorship, with self-fulfilment and gratification coming some way down the line - if at all. Man for centuries have been of the belief that you might not live to see tomorrow, so prosper and be wealthy now. Live for the day. For you might be killed by a saber-toothed tiger or catch the plague tomorrow.
Times may have changed, but we are still all seeking to be better than the next man. Have we accumulated enough “stuff” in order to feel justified as a man and accepted into the materialistic society we call life? Many of the decisions we make are driven by our ego. The want to be better, wealthier, and more successful in life.
People want success, I get it. But the question I pose is this: for who? Your wife or girlfriend? Your parents?
What does success look like to you?
Maybe it is as small as starting a new hobby or learning a new skill? Maybe it's much bigger and you want to finish a relationship and start a fresh, travel the world, or start a new business?
It’s something to think about, isn’t it?
While I have your attention, how is your...
Dare I say.... “mental health”?
Are you where you thought you would be at this stage in your life?
One thing I can pretty much guarantee, is you’ll all be saying the same thing - ‘where has the time gone?' It may come as a surprise to you, but the feeling of unfulfillment and underachievement is felt by almost all men at some stage of their life. And, even more so as we hit major milestones - 18, 21, 30 and, now I find myself hitting 40! Holy fuck where has the time gone?
As I fast approach the big 4-0, I do find myself reflecting more than ever before. It’s unnerving, slightly worrying, and if I’m honest, has kept me awake at night over the last few weeks.
Signs that I’m getting older
Long gone are the days of the weight just dropping off when I ease up on the beer and exercise more regularly. You can forget the days of jumping straight back in with heavy deadlifts and a squat session. Nowadays, if I miss the gym for any length of time, I find myself easing back in with a few stretch and mobility sessions so as to not do myself any damage.
I’ve also started to favour comfort over style, although I’m yet to own a pair of slippers and nor do I intend to anytime soon. But, I do find myself thinking ahead somewhat. I prefer to call it knowledge, others remind me its called ‘getting older’.
Dinner reservations are now being made for 6.30 or 7pm instead of 9.00 or 9.30.
I try to avoid rush hour.
I’ve been known to pick a certain pub to meet my mates because there is more chance of getting a seat. Whereas before I’d be picking pubs based on their suitability for doing coke in the toilets.
Look, I understand that we change as we get older. When I was approaching 30, I was well aware of the changes I’d undertaken since my early twenties. I get it, it’s all part of growing up. But, it doesn’t make it any easier.
The next big milestone will be 50 and that just seems fucking old to me.
Fuck, forty seemed old to me a few years ago! Now I’m trying to convince myself it’s the prime years of my existence.
At twenty, we have all the energy in the world but lack experience. At sixty, we have all the experience but lack the energy. So doesn’t that make forty the ideal age to pursue whatever it is you haven’t pursued in life already?
Why the fuck not?
A new hobby or career? Maybe you’ve been stuck in a relationship void of lust, passion and excitement. Notice I missed out quoting “love”. Why? Because love is what often keeps us in relationships that are unfulfilling and void of excitement.
We stay in them because we “love” our partner. But love alone doesn’t ensure a meaningful relationship. We quite often mistake love for comfort when in long-term relationships choosing to live like best friends rather than lovers with a sexual energy. For the record, women are generally happy to forgo sex if all the other boxes are ticked. Whereas men, as you very well know, are not so open to the idea. That in itself can cause issues further down the line such as affairs, prostitutes and the over-consumption of porn.
Age ain’t nothing but a number - or is it?
Twenty-one, or sixty-five, it actually doesn’t matter. We just have to ask ourselves one question - Are we living our life by our standards or that of others?
You may have spent the best part of your life trying to satisfy someone else. But doing so can often lead to a feeling of frustration and resentment. We fall into a life of existence where we are constantly treading water. Peddling like crazy to stay afloat, but getting nowhere fast. Bills, time, expectations, and commitments...
The key, for all of you approaching 40 or any other milestone, is to make this the decade that counts, that truly makes you happy. Live on your terms and conditions - not someone else’s. Remember, you control your future and there is nothing more invigorating than being in control of your destination.
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