Sunday, October 23, 2016

Masculinity: Something I Aspire To

As time goes on, I hope to share more and more about myself. I have been intentionally vague about certain things, as I haven’t, as of yet, decided if I would rather have a smaller amount of anonymity. I might do away completely with my pseudonym and the more distinct elements of my life that identify me specifically, but until then, I hope you wouldn’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to get to know me better. I don’t mind opening up on a more personal level, but my wide-eyed, innocent trust in humanity is quickly dying (insert sly remark about presidential election).

That said, things lately have got me thinking about masculinity. Very gratefully so, I have recently gotten into bodybuilding, which is something interesting, when you consider my stature, which is tall and relatively slight. I have never liked the idea of being weak or “skinny” but that is something I eventually resigned myself to in my formative years. Fast forward to my mission, when I started designating time toward exercise every day, and have retained that habit ever since. I stopped seeing myself as someone who was physically weak, and as the years have passed, I have become increasingly enthusiastic about my workout goals.

Just a few months ago, I decided to invest in a testosterone boosting supplement, and subsequently a gym membership. I had virtually always stuck to bodyweight exercises that I did from home, but with a little extra supplementation, a lot of food, and the stress of performing the same exercises but now with twice my body weight, I have seen some palpable progress. Once I reached the age of an adult, my weight completely stagnated. My mom would tell me that for my height, I would be considered anorexic, although never for any lack of eating. The many members who fed me throughout my mission are what you would consider food enthusiasts, and a few looked at me and treated me as though it was their life’s goal to plump me up. They never really stood a chance though—I definitely held my own with what they dished out (which was absolutely delicious without fail), but never did my pants grow tighter. I did grow an inch, however.

Now, on the other hand, I have gained a solid twelve pounds that I never had before, which is nothing less than a miracle. If for no other reason, I’d like to share a few of my goals here, so you folks can help me to stay accountable. Percentages are in relationship to my body weight, which is 100% now just as much as 100% will be my future weight at the time I reach these goals:

Squat: 90% --> 133%
Deadlift: 100% --> 150%
Bench Press: ?% --> 100%
Pull-Ups (Consecutive): 6 --> 20
Side-Splits (Degrees): 165 --> 200
Center Splits (Degrees): 150 --> 180

I am particularly grateful for my timing to take interest in bodybuilding when I have. It has been one of my more effective coping mechanisms when emotionally handling the whole Joseph situation (which I need to write another update for), and it has proven to me again the power that simply taking care of our bodies can carry into the rest of our lives. My motivation for my business and my progress within it have increased dramatically, I feel more self-confident, my negative feelings towards things out of my control diminish, and I feel more like a man.

Let me elaborate more on that last point. I’ve discovered in the last year of me coming out that one of my biggest pet peeves is when someone infers that a) they suspected all along that I was gay, or b) they consider me flamboyant.

News flash for those people: I’m not flamboyant!

Now, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with being flamboyant, but by my own preference, it is a quality that makes me uneasy and that I don’t associate with at all, even if I have at times. The only feminine qualities that I ever want to identify with are the ones that every guy could use a healthy dose of. Considering the other half of my pet peeve, one of the highest compliments you could pay me is that you would never have guessed that I was gay. Not because there is anything wrong at all about being gay, but because I don’t consider any of the outward signals and indications of being gay as having been assimilated into my personality.

As for what I think of masculinity, I think of a few traits. I think all men should be courageous, honest, trustworthy, worthy of emulation, deliberate, respectful, dependable, strong-willed, determined, motivated, putting God’s will before his own, seeking to be worthy of the Priesthood, etc. I also thing a man should take good care of himself, as he is able, and I would also side with the bumper sticker that “real men follow Jesus”, the Man among men, and that besides, he ought to do his best to live true to his own personal values and to the values that until just recently have been qualities taught in society as being worthy of admiration.

On the other hand, I think every guy could learn a thing or two from some of the many qualities that are traditionally associated with women: being kind, caring, considerate, loving, patient, intelligent (don’t argue with me on this one), creative, nurturing, selfless, spiritual, appropriately affectionate, etc. Perhaps there are indeed qualities that each sex is naturally predisposed to, but then again, I believe there is consequently much that we can learn from each one. Maybe that’s why I feel strongly about homes with both a mother and a father. Perhaps we stand to gain much if we, as a society, didn’t polarize and stereotype the positive aspects of each gender, and emulated the good qualities of those around us.

Now, I mentioned earlier how I consider Christ to be the Man. I love how He held no preconceived notions of what kind of person He ought to be. He didn’t rely on the judgement of those around Him; instead, He eschewed earthly opinions and demonstrated every quality and characteristic worth having. I think what I am trying to get at is that a real man is full of charity, or at least actively aspires to it. One of the most manly men who ever lived once said, “For without charity ye are nothing.” I couldn’t say it any better.

So if someone tells you to “be a man”, I hope you’ll think twice about what that ought to mean.

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