Life Lessons

Time to “Be a Man?”

It can’t be my fault
I did nothing wrong this time.
You say I pushed you away
And that you couldn’t stay behind.

This is not a game, see
If you want to blame me, state your reasons…

We can’t seem to let go of our pride.
Interpretation has caused this great divide
Communication was lost when I made you cry.

I’m starting to realize that we keep fighting over the same things again
We both wanted love in the end.

I won’t say a word just to make it hurt inside
Go ahead and say what I lack
You can’t take it back this time.

Tell me are we waiting for something worth saving?
I just wanted you to hear me.

We can’t seem to let go of our pride.
Interpretation has caused this great divide
Communication was lost when I made you cry.
I’m starting to realize that we keep fighting over the same things again
We both wanted love in the end.

 ~ Miscommunication performed by Tim Be Told

FRESHMAN YEAR of college has come in full swing, and with papers, tests and midterms, the academic life of any college student can seem to be hectic. Unfortunately, I am still not the best student to keep on top of my classes, and apparently, being sick from bronchitis and being lazy in my schoolwork over this last month doesn’t sound so promising either. But here what is promising: I am being told by a lot of people, my parents and professors, that if I can’t stay on top of my classes for the remainder of the quarter, it’s very probable I’ll face academic probation, or an even worse fate…being expelled from the University.

Now before I go any further, I know what I’ve just reiterated might sound like a very harsh and maybe even exaggerated consequence, but what I do know is that this kind of warning is supposed to be a wake-up call for me to get to it and do my schoolwork and attend classes so I can avoid this academic downturn, to say the very least of it.

But about two weeks ago, I received an e-mail from my dad who stated, again, the significance of me facing these potential consequences.

As I skimmed through his warning, a rather simple question gradually surfaced in my mind and I begged to ask, “What does it really mean to be a man?”

I told my dad I understood (or at the very least, simply acknowledged) that for most of his life, he taught me that becoming a man meant to take responsibility for oneself and to be self-sufficient and independent enough to live your own life and to chart your own course, and I told him I had always acknowledged this. But now as I grow older day by day, I’ve often analyzed and speculated, through an immersion process of movies, books, lectures and everything else in between, that the mere idea of defining a male’s masculinity is still at the center of a debate that has been raging on for millennia of recorded human history.

Not to mention, the “masculine” role models we portray in film are often the stereotypical “guy who jumps in at this moment to save the girl” people, but I’ve often wondered if people in the real world do this.

The truth is, some guys I can at least assume do do this while others merely put on this false bravado, either because they “have” to, meaning this quality is what others can expect from this person and on a larger perspective, is generally accepted by others, or on another note, this bravado is simply an attention-getter, or maybe even a combination of the two.

Regardless though, my thoughts on ‘what it takes to be a man’ doesn’t necessarily include a six-pack and a very sexy girlfriend. Quite the contrary, I know that looks are just one thing…and I know that we all strive to be the most attractive people in the world, no joke. The stuff you see with Hollywood entertainment and fashion spells it out pretty clearly.

But let’s get down to the real stuff…the stuff that makes men men…and no, I am not referring to penises.

I am referring to the virtues that all men should at the very least have: those time-old virtues like being self-confident, greeting the world with an open mind and an open heart, reaching out to others when they need it the most, and mentoring others in some fashion. Sure I know I’m touching on some very vague topics here.

But I am glad I know and more importantly, recognize these virtues now as an eighteen-year-old college freshman rather than waste my time being foolish in other endeavors (as I age and make mistakes) and later regret to know I wish I could have approached and accomplished things differently had I known things the smarter and more mature way.

It’s strange every time I think about it…that very old idea of retaining child-like innocence even when you physically mature into an adult. My former high school teacher Jaime Richards said the term I am currently referring to is called neoteny, and during my senior year of high school, he has lectured on the significance of individuals who are able in some way to retain their neoteny, sometimes physically, while other times emotionally and mentally.

And this thought has also made me consider what people, or should I say, what society attempts to do in trying to separate the “boys” from the “men” because for as long as people have been around on the face of the Earth, in nearly every culture, boys are always considered to be too “young”, too “mischievous”, too “immature” to be real men.

Yet, while most of the general population will say this is true, and on some parts even I have to agree, let me bring up an example from literature that perhaps will make you think twice about the adage “boys will be boys” for just a second.

In the early Christian Church that was established in the decades shortly after Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, missionaries like Paul the Apostle went forward and publicly testified and preached the Christian Gospel to people throughout the Roman Empire, and establishing a plethora of churches in the process.

While he was one of the prominent missionaries and preachers of his time, others like Stephen (who was eventually martyred) and Paul’s protégé Timothy (Paul and Timothy held a strong emotional and spiritual mentor relationship with each other, and at times, acted as father and son to each other) followed Paul’s example and went out into the streets and the churches and boldly and genuinely preached that Gospel.

When Timothy was called to lead a church, Paul gave him guidance in the letters that are now known as the Books of 1st and 2nd Timothy of the New Testament.

In these letters, Paul instructs a young Timothy to stand firm and to resolve the conflicts that arise in the early churches, mainly concerning doctrinal beliefs and the works.

Yet a single line of Scripture seems to resonate louder to me than most other lines in the Book of 1st Timothy:

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

~ 1 Timothy 4:12 (NASB)

I now have a purity ring inscribed with this very verse because I wanted to wear a ring that would encompass what my life morals and values are, and to not just show to the world, “Hey I’m a virgin.” I wanted a ring that would make an even bolder statement of, “Hey I have faith, and the reason why I have this faith is because given the circumstances I have overcome, it makes me a stronger person…and even more importantly, I would encourage you to step out in faith if you are prepared to do so.”

There is actually a whole other back-story as to why I wanted a purity ring in the first place, but as for now, I think it’s time for me to “man up” and take control of my life, starting with my schoolwork in college (among a plethora of other things I need to take care of, of course).

But to close, I can recall the words of a wise, old Rafiki from The Lion King 1½:

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the very first step.

Now it’s time I should take that very first step.

Enough said and until next time…

~ A Fellow Columnist, Josh Chen.

2 comments on “Time to “Be a Man?”

  1. Felix Chow

    Funny you mentioned “guy who jumps in at this moment to save the girl”. I kind of have something like that in “Fantasy vs. Reality”.


  2. Looks life you put a lot of effort in your columns Josh 🙂
    Also I can’t believe you got bronchitis? 😦
    Also I agree with “I know that we all strive to be the most attractive people in the world”


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