Welcome little man, to the world of Men. I am pretty chuffed to have you with me, I am also pretty nervous I’ve got to say, because you’ve got lots of choices ahead of you.

In truth it's going to be a bit of a minefield as you grow up, because there are so many people who don’t really know what it means to be a man in the world. You will be offered a vast array of choices of what it means to be a man.

Grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and even your parents are going to try to show you what being a man is all about. Magazines, movies, advertising and the media will also jump on board at some point.

When you get to school you will see boys who punch and bully, boys who are sensitive and get teased, boys who seem to have it all and some who just don’t fit and become isolated. You will see boys you knew who were once also delicate and tender like you are now, become hard either from being the bully or being bullied. In both instances it will seem like you don’t have a choice, but you do.

By the time you get older you will have been fed lots of messages that tell you that the only meaningful relationship you should seek with girls is a sexual one. You will be encouraged to find ways to ‘score’ with women and then brag about your conquests. It will seem like you don’t have a choice about how to treat women, but you do.

You will have a group of male friends that you will call your mates. Mates are the people you’d do anything for, but they can also have some unwritten rules about what you can and can’t talk about. In most cases the relationship is special but not overly deep. It will seem like you don’t have a choice about what to talk about, but you do.

At some point you might even get married and have children. You will be asked to be the provider. Being the provider means spending less time with the people you care for so you can provide for them. It will seem like you don’t have a choice but to bring home the bacon, but you do.

Then you will hit retirement age and leave behind a world you have created where you had a level of standing and influence, and it will seem like it has all been taken away from you. It will seem like you don’t have a choice but to slink off into the night ... but you do.

So there it is ... not inspiring I know, but better to be realistic than pump you up with nonsense. But here is the thing ... the path laid out for many men doesn’t work and it doesn’t have to be the path you walk. It can feel daunting to feel like you are going against the pack, but look at the way things are for men – the well-beaten path doesn’t work.

At any moment you can ask, "Am I going to buy what the world is selling or make my own choices?"

When you ask this question it is your call. How honestly you answer is also up to you, but what I can share with certainty is:

  • You will need to ask more often than you think
  • The answer doesn’t come in a bloke’s magazine, on the sports field, at the bottom of a beer glass, in a computer game or even at the top of a mountain

Being your own man is not about being isolated from others, nor is it about being smarter, fitter or stronger than others.

Being your own man is about being yourself, which includes honouring your sensitivity, your ability to express what you feel and the care with which you look after yourself and others. This is the choice to love yourself, not the self that the world is asking you to be, but the true you, the quality that you already are, right in this moment.

As I look at you I can see you. I can see how sensitive you are. I can see how delicately you move and breathe, and I can see you know what you want and need and that there is something you are feeling inside you that brings a joy to your smile, that lights a room. It is there all within you now and never leaves.

At times, it will seem like this choice is not on offer – but that is the catch. It is not the world’s job to offer it to you, but your job to claim it for yourself. Once claimed, it becomes the true strength of a man and will hold you well through the bumps and knocks that may come your way.

Welcome little man, to the world of Men. I am pretty chuffed to have you with me and am looking forward to getting to know the man you already are.

  • By Joel Levin

    People and groups is where it is at for me, the way we work together (or not), it’s what I do for a living and what I do for a hobby, in essence it’s my everyday.

  • Photography: Rebecca UK, Photographer

    I am a tender and sensitive woman who is inspired by the playfulness of children and the beauty of nature. I love photographing people and capturing magical and joyful moments on my camera.