Breaking the Gender Code

I’ve never had an inner crisis over being a giraffe.

I’ve never stared longingly at high-hanging fruit or wished my neck was thirty feet long, and that makes sense. I can’t be a giraffe.

I wish it were that simple when it comes to being a man.

Last week I realized I don’t want to provide for a family or be a Dad and my wife and I had a serious conversation about the future of our relationship.

Even as I write that, there is so much guilt and judgement in me about what that means about me “as a man”, but it’s what’s true for me right now. I even want to follow it up with “but I might want to in the future…” but it’s just an insecure voice wanting to leave the door open in case someone judges me too harshly.

I don’t want to have kids, and I don’t want to provide for a family. That’s my truth. Yet I can’t help but wonder if all this choice I have is helping or hurting.

Maybe seventy years ago I wouldn’t have had an option to not be a provider. I would have seen my role as bread-winner and never questioned it. Today “being a man” can mean literally anything I want.

I can be a doctor, a lawyer, a nurse, a candlestick maker, a fashion designer, a Navy Officer, a husband to a wife, a husband to a husband, a wife to a husband, a wife to a wife, I can even trade in my sex and get a new one.

I can do all this, and somewhere, someone in San Francisco will love and accept me for who I am.

Maybe I just have too many options.

When I walk into a restaurant and they hand me a menu with 100 items, I get overwhelmed. I don’t want 100 options, I want four, maybe five. Then I want to pick so I can get to eating.

I’m 33 years old and apparently I’m still discovering what kind of man I want to be. That’s like going to a restaurant and waiting 8 hours to order. It’s crazy. Yet here I am, and who knows when (if ever) this inquiry will stop (I’m betting never).

Add to all that the fact that women go through the same damn thing, and we’re supposed to match up with them based on what we want. It’s incredibly frustrating.

Sometimes I wonder if this is just the path of the philosopher, someone who continually questions life. Clearly I’ve signed up for that. Maybe my job in life is to go through and try all the options so I can write about it. That’s certainly possible, and also quite painful for anyone who decides to get on board the Dave train.

I’m tired of being the man I was told I should be, and yet part of my suffering is that I’m aware of many things I was told about being a man, maybe more than most men.

Is ignorance bliss? Surely I would never consciously choose ignorance, but that’s the thing about that choice… if you’re ignorant you don’t need to choose.

I know all this choice is helping me work toward a future where I can experience greater freedom and self-expression but it comes at the cost, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it comes with a cost that I don’t always want to pay.

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