“Muscular? Check. Well groomed? Check. Wears suits? Double check.” Guilty! This is the list that comes to my mind when I see what appears to be a “real man” grabbing a cup of black coffee on his way to work. Admit it. Every twenty-something year old girl thinks she recognizes a man when she sees one. However, due to girls (myself included) “know it all” mind set we have all wasted our time on getting to know a guy who we thought was sure to impress but ends up falling short of a proper man’s qualities. To be honest, it is hard to tell the difference between the two without truly getting to know the guy and by that time it’s far too late.
Women are consumed with the idea of finding a gentleman not because we wish to revive gender roles or maintain the classic ideas we have about masculinity, but because we want someone with good character and automatically associate that with gender. We romanticize an image of what being a gentleman looked like in the past. Some men that may come to mind include Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, George Clooney, and any other “man” who has starred as a heartthrob in a big screen production. It's normal! These are outrageously attractive men! The problem, however, is that we believe these are men only because of what we see in their acting. We are not able to discern their rank on a scale of manhood because we lack the details specified in knowing these men personally. Many assume that there is an obvious distinction between a boy and a man; while this is somewhat true when referring to their appearance, the only way to efficiently discern the difference between a boy and a man is to examine the quality of the guy’s character and his actions and reactions to life experiences he has undergone.
At first glance, a girl would usually assume a man to be 6’2”, have a full-grown beard, and wear a size eleven in shoes. She would notice their age as well and automatically assume any guy over the age of twenty-one is a man. While a guy is usually considered a man at this point in his life, age refers to adulthood rather than manhood and not all men are able to grow a beard. In addition to bodily appearance, the difference in the way a guy dresses can often give hint of if the guy is a boy or a genuine man. A boy would usually be seen wearing pants drooping to his ankles and a wife beater to show off his “muscles” while a man would realize that boxers hanging out of your pants is unappealing and immodest.
Looking past any sort of physical appearance is of course a guy’s character. A boy will often be arrogant and have an ego to no end. For example, posting “selfies” to Instagram is a current fad. While everyone enjoys seeing how different someone looks after only two days, when a boy posts a selfie it can never be good. They will usually post a self-portrait flexing in the mirror and wearing their wife beater once again. The caption of the photo will read something along the lines of “I’m not even flexing” even though one can make an obvious assumption that this is untrue. The boy doesn’t feel bothered by his post because he hasn’t matured to the point where he realizes physical appearance is not all that matters to the girl(s) he is trying to impress and an ego as big as his biceps is even less impressive.
On the other hand, a man would never consider posting such absurdity. He thoroughly realizes that a post of this sort will often attract sixteen year old girls who listen to Justin Bieber and will comment on the boy’s post with three heart eye emoticons- letting him know how cute he looks. With that being said, selfies are not always bad if presented in an appropriate and humble manner.
This does not go to say that silliness in a man is unattractive and that mirror portraits are always a turn off. Both boys and men will be silly and may take irrelevant photos, but it is their intent that classifies their character.
In addition, as with many other circumstances, life experiences portray the difference between a boy and a man. This includes trial and error through relationships, traveling and experiencing life first hand, and encountering real life problems. A boy will migrate toward beating around the bush and avoiding serious issues at all costs. He is more prone to being controlled by a situation due to inexperience on how to handle the matter. In contrast, a man understands when it is time to be serious and take responsibility for obstacles and predicaments he may face. He can hold both the sheer significance and the sheer lack of importance of life at the same time. He has the space to listen compassionately and can express his emotions in a controlled manner.
In other words, a man is pliable. In the midst of any tough situation, whether getting his car towed or the loss of a family member, he is able to pick back up where he left off, accept his fate, and does not become a victim of the situation. A man has learned to be fearless. This does not necessarily mean being absent of fear but rather admitting his fears and moving past them.
My father is a perfect example of a true man. A few years ago, after being diagnosed with Prostate Cancer, continually visiting MD Anderson Medical Center for check ups, and enduring countless medical procedures to ensure his wellbeing, my father overcame cancer. Although he fought a winning battle, this period in his life was not an easy process to surpass. However, despite my father’s predicament he stood with confidence knowing that he had little control over the situation and he could not let his lack of health in this particular area of his body defeat him.
Lastly, as Einstein said, a man should “not [be] a man of success but of value.” A boy may have a job at a local pizza shop, and that’s great in the moment, but with lack of ambition he won’t further himself in life. Often times having a job of this sort can work to further character but does not act as a substantial ground for the future. A man on the other hand has goals he is striving for. However, though a job is necessary for success, a man consumed in his work will essentially be meaningless. A man does not need to cling to the illusion of safety but rather contribute to mankind by doing meaningful things such as caring for others rather than placing himself as the ultimate person to please.
Like all others, men are expected to live up to particular expectations and values that may be irrelevant to actually differentiating a boy and a man. In the end, this matter has more to do with confidence. A real man strives to fulfill positive qualities because that’s what he is: a man. He hangs out with other men, may drink a few beers, loves his woman, and works wholeheartedly for a greater purpose. He does his best to make the most of things and has fun from start to finish. He starts as a boy who only speaks what he thinks and ends as a gentleman who acts on what he knows. His sweat is honest, his heart is open, and his back is straight.