It’s easy to believe that you’ll turn 25 and suddenly you’ll redeem a card with the title “man” on it. To quote the ever-so-quotable Lee Corso, "Not so fast, sweetheart."
There’s no age requirement for being a man, in the same way that there’s no rigid age-range for being a boy, for that matter.
The difference between these two titles follows, first, a difference in behavior. Before becoming a man, you’ll have to act like one. But, what exactly constitutes manhood? It’s a tougher concept to grasp than you might think.
F*ck gender roles. That’s not manhood.
Being a man is about handling business and maintaining respect in all aspects – for yourself and upon others. Becoming a man is about learning from the mistakes of your youth.
Here are the 13 lessons every boy needs to master before coming a man:
13. Understand that you are part of a bigger plan.
Focus on yourself, of course, but don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re very much a part of something much bigger. Whether it’s your workplace, family, group of friends or humanity... you’re not the only one who deals with your actions or their consequences.
A boy focuses on himself. A man will focus on how he can better those around him. Maturity is understanding that sacrifices are sometimes necessary for the greater good.
Watch LeBron James play 48 minutes of basketball, and you’ll soon see why he is a champion.
12. First order of business, feed the family.
Becoming a man means providing for others. While it may seem irrational to provide for every person in your life, family should come first. Always. If you don’t already today, one day, you might have children.
A boy looks to get fed; a man will do whatever it takes to feed his family. Maturity means doing so without any aspect of a doubt.
Listen to Kevin Durant’s MVP speech, addressed to his mother. All men should take notes for themselves.
11. The pants don’t make the man, a man made those pants.
Style is important, don’t get me wrong, and keeping your appearance tidy can go a long way, but it will never define you. There’s no position you’ll attain solely on designer glasses, and no girl will ever love you because your pants were tailored just right.
If people like you for your clothes, there’s a good chance they only like your clothes.
Boys are impressed by what they wear. Men make impressions, regardless of what they wear. Maturity means function over fashion, first.
10. The rain always stops, eventually.
Throughout your life there will be tough times, the question is: Will you bounce back or bounce backwards? After every rainstorm, the sun will ultimately rear its face.
Boys will sit and pout. Men will focus on how to make themselves better tomorrow. Stagnancy during times of despair is a clear cut sign of immaturity. Stay positive, and focus on progression.
9. All things in moderation.
Socrates said, some 2,500 years ago, “Everything in moderation. Nothing in excess.”
For Oscar Wilde, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
While Socrates said it first, Wilde, in my opinion, said it best.
The distinction here is that excessiveness is fine, as long as it’s in moderation.
Men will understand that occasionally giving into vices, or wearing different hats, will not define them absolutely. Maturity is finding the balance between things, and maintaining that balance.
8. The health triangle is still very much in play.
Being comfortable and being healthy are not synonymous. Don’t forget the “three aspects of health” you learned in your 6th grade health class. While you might be comfortable with your body image, social activity and mental state – this comfort won’t always translate to health.
Boys will find comfort in their comfort zones. Men will do what’s best for the long-term, even if this means making adjustments to their lifestyle.
Be comfortable in your own skin, and being as a whole, but make sure you’re striving towards what’s best for your health. Health is a responsibility, and all men should strive towards upholding it.
7. "When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen."
That’s a quote from Ernest Hemingway. While you might be determined to share your story with the world today, remember everyone’s got a story. Listen.
Boys will chew people’s ears off. When others speak, men will be all ears. You never know what part of your own story could get solved or improved by listening to someone else’s.
6. A closed mouth never gets invited to the feast.
There are times to listen, and there are times to speak. While you should always listen, don’t forget to speak your own piece.
Men know when to speak and, more importantly, when to speak up. Closed mouths have never been fed. Maturity doesn’t mean being a “yes man” or shutting up and appeasing the masses. Being a man requires knowing what to say, when to say it, and how to go about it respectfully.
5. Don’t let a broken heart change who you are.
Don’t get me wrong. Falling in love does not require being a man. Boys fall in love every day. However falling in love, and picking up the pieces once they fall apart, is part of manhood.
Boys are spiteful; men are resilient. Don’t let one failed love prevent future ones. Maturity means moving forward, and learning from past trials and errors.
4. Love people and use things, and not the other way around.
Men realize people are meant to be fallen in love with, not material items. At the same time, a true man won’t use the people around him to provoke an immoral outcome, or as forms of amusement. That shows ignorance, not superiority.
Failing to distinguish between these two purposes is a clear cut sign of immaturity. Everything holds a place in life. Prioritizing between people in your life and possessions in your dresser is a lesson all men have learned. People have hearts. Remember: There is nothing "manly" about breaking another's heart.
3. Say sorry first.
In every relationship, there must be a hero. Understand that a hero doesn’t need to wear a cape or mask, as long as he or she resolves a conflict. Whether it’s a petty argument, or the reason for months of silence, men shouldn't wait for anyone else to be that hero. Most of the time it’s simply an “I’m sorry.”
Boys will bite their tongue. Men will swallow their pride. Understand that the capacity of a relationship will always outweigh the cost of a couple words.
2. Understand that being a man has very little to do with masculinity.
No bank of trivial sports facts or stain of BBQ sauce on your shirt will ever measure your manhood. Remember that. There’s no record of James Bond lifting heavy weights, following sports, whatsoever, and Ian Fleming could have included that if he so chose to.
Bond isn’t the true “man’s man” for any aspect outside of his poised demeanor, and quick reactions (perhaps his selection of women, too). Truly, his savviness is what made him attractive.
That’s an important lesson.
1. See things through.
One of the most important qualities men possess is their commitment to seeing things through -- no matter how big of a failure might be imminent. Captains go down with their ships, as the cliché goes, and men follow through with their word.
Whether it be a coffee date, or an entire career decision, men will feel obligated to finish what they started.