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Fully Man | Anonymous: Truth Through the Ragged Machismo

Redding, CA, USA

I am so excited to share the 2nd essay to the Fully Man Series. This man is a dear friend, who has ask to remain anonymous, but I will say that he has impacted my life and continues to inspire me to dream and dream bigger. He understands the journey of creativity and the value of simplicity, realness, as well as moving forward no matter what life throws. I am grateful to see the ways he fights for people and the reality of Jesus. I am so honored to introduce to you his essay answering the question, When was the moment you realized you were becoming a man?

Dear Nephew,

It's about time we talk about healthy manhood. Of course, I don't have it all figured out. I know with each new chapter in life, I will be evolving and reestablishing my core ideals to my daily life. Yet one thing is to be certain; I will continue to be a man for Christ. Bear in mind with everything I'll say, volumes have been unpacked about these subjects. But I wrote this letter to begin a dialogue that I hope will continue throughout the years. 

Our immediate family has influenced us both. We've also been influenced by television and social media. Yet, society nor our family's presentation and expectations have always been the healthiest about manhood. In this letter, I'll be sharing about emotions, machismo, and my growth through my position as a Social Worker.

You will experience sorrows in life, as we all do, and you, too, will make poor choices and struggle with guilt, shame, and insecurities. To have breakthrough, you will have to confront the darkest parts of yourself, the parts that feel unlovable. You'll have to become brave and choose to love yourself and forgive yourself. To allow people near your heart, to esteem you and give council. And it's ok if sorrowful feelings continue to resurface throughout your life. That won't make you less of man. It's natural that your body and mind recall past pains. You have permission to go through your process and to confide in others. 

We both have heard countless times the expressions of; "stop being a bitch." "you gay as fuck," and "man up." Don't belittle your emotions or allow others to, because they are ok and normal to have. I stress this because I was so used to desensitizing myself. Emotions are your body's indicators of how you feel about something. For emotions are also tied to our underlying belief system. Obviously, we get upset or happy because of how something vibes with us. 

As well, remember the difference between guilt and shame. Knowing the distinction between the two will increase your emotional intelligence. Guilt is feeling comprised for what we did. Shame is feeling comprised for what we have become. Shame stings more, having that inward focus emphasizing what is wrong with ourselves. If you ever get stuck with lingering negative feelings, I charge you with the reality that you are loved. I hope you will remember that your chapters in life eventually end and start anew. Soon enough, you will have a new chapter of life. If you choose to learn from your past, then it doesn't have to define you or dictate your future. 

In our Hispanic culture, you have experienced the unachievable and straining "machismo," which is aggressive masculine pride. From my experience, I believe machismo is an overcompensation towards the anxiety and strife in life. It also doesn't help that we both grew up in a community hurting from gangs. As a child, attempting to understand what manhood is and how I will be leading myself, I naturally took to the Mexican gang mentality.

Our Hispanic community tells us that males are headstrong and that we are to safeguard public opinion: that no one disrespects us. As we both saw, that can get out of hand pretty quick. Machismo is a one dimensional way of thinking. The machismo mentality solely focuses on not looking weak. I was trying to contain myself into a one-dimensional persona that strived to look strong.

Yeah, you could unwind after gaining a reputation and some hood stripes. But, I'm better off and stronger as a multi-dimensional person (educated, culturally aware, traveler, etc.) Thankfully, I was able to mature from this distorted way of thinking by asking the fundamental questions of my identity and purpose. Believe me, after being on probation twice, house arrest for three months, along with all the court mandated classes and community service, that headstrong mentality was not the way to go about things.

Looking back, I observe that I filled into the maturity of manhood when I began working as a Social Worker for Adult Social Services in my local county. In this position, I walked to the darkest parts of society, and I was tasked to be a light, to be an uplifting hand. I met with people who were financially exploited, physically abused, mentally impaired, and so on. In that realm of work, I had to be an advocate. There was a saying, God makes all things work together for good. It's interesting how God made us of my old headstrong mentally, evolving it with to serve in this field. But I grappled to keep it in check.  

I almost got into fights with suspects several times, in which I had to do a de-escalation class. This position was pivotal because I had to work on my emotional health again because of stress. Not only that, I went through compassion fatigue from countless cases. I even dealt with getting emotionally jaded by becoming aware of the awful abuses that happened in my county. With everything I took part in, I love when justice is served.

You will have to forge yourself to be resilient so that you can enjoy the beauties in life. There is hope and masculinity outside of the narrow-minded view we were raised in. Machismo is not the answer to our identity; Jesus is. I leave you with a final resolve, to not fear suffering, but to find the wisdom you can gain from it. Every trial will mold you, so it's best to try to control your development during the shaping. I have become someone who contends, to be honest with myself and to communicate well with others. I'll continue to pursue wholesomeness. My goal is to live out integrity. My beloved nephew, consider regular reflection and self-discipline. For doing so, your emotions will make you a wiser and stronger man, leading you to make better choices. 

Much Love,
Your Uncle


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