I want to take you right back to my first day of middle school as a 10 year old boy…….
Walking up to the big school gates as a scared little boy, not knowing what life was going to be like on the other side, scared the crap out of me!
My mum let go of my hand, and said don’t worry you will make new friends and in less than an hour you will wonder what you were even worried about.
I wish I could say I confidently strutted through the gates without even looking back, sadly this wasn’t the case………..
I burst into tears and wrapped my arms around my mum, there is something about the smell of your mums coat that is really comforting as a young boy and I didn’t want to let her go.
I finally ‘manned up’ and was persuaded by my mum to go into school and she would be waiting for me at 3 o clock with a mars bar, think this is why whenever i’m stressed or upset I take comfort in auditioning for the part of Bruce Bogtrotter in Matilda, and putting his cake scene to shame.
I have never been particularly confident or had much self belief, which is why as i’ve got older i’ve made it my mission to improve on these areas, in fact i’ve become a bit of a self development whore, but this is one I can keep up all day long!
I always felt like a bit of a loner and an outcast, I was the sensitive kid in the ‘popular’ group, luckily I wasn’t your stereotypical sensitive boy that got bullied or pushed about, maybe it was because I had a calm collected air about me, whatever it was i’m glad I had it.
The majority of my middle school days I was your average student, done what was required of me in class, most of my homework was late but I never really got into any trouble…………
Police, alcohol, drugs and exclusions…………
I bring to you, The teenage Dan in Upper school!
This is where I really struggled with my identity and became a lot more interested in girls, in fact that was all I could think about, what makes matters worse was the fact that I was a virgin and the thought of actually having sex in real life with a girl scared the crap out of me, so I just continued to be a horny teenage boy close to masturbating myself into an early grave!
Finally I found my confidence…………
Alcohol and drugs,
I was able to have conversations with girls, I was able to be around girls and not feel uncomfortable and I was able to feel like a ‘man’ and not a shy teenage boy.
At 14, drink and drugs were the only way I could hide my nervousness and adopt this false confidence and enable me to ‘become a man’
My first couple of years of upper school was spent fantasising about girls and turning to drink and drugs in order to communicate with them,
In a stupid ego filled rage, me and 1 of my mates decided to smash up the boys toilets and leave it looking like one of them bar fights in the old american films had taken place.
I can still remember getting caught and being sent to the heads office, I was 15 and was enjoying school with my mates and felt like I finally had a place…………
Mr Pearson our head teacher had other plans!
I was permanently excluded, and told that I was going to be made an example of to all the other students of what happens when you start getting too big for your boots.
I just remember how disappointed my mum and dad were of me, as they knew I had a good head on my shoulders.
Now back then it was very much you stick to your own, Sudbury lads stuck with Sudbury lads, Cornard lads stuck with Cornard lads and Glemsford lads stuck with Glemsford lads, well I had 2 options………….
Go to Cornard upper and try and make friends as quickly as possible so I had some sort of ‘protection’
Appeal the decision and hopefully win my place back at Sudbury upper and get back with my mates again.
Of course I appealed.
I was stood infront of a board of about 10 men and women, my voice was shaking and my palms were sweating, I felt ashamed that I had done something so stupid and just wished I hadn’t of had that mask on for the last couple of years at school and was actually the real me.
I walked through my front door after the appeal, went upstairs to my room and my dad followed me,
I hadn’t cried infront of my dad for years because I didn’t want him thinking I wasn’t a man,
But I couldn’t hold it back,
I literally broke down and put my arms around my dad, the sudden sense of fear and uncertainty took over my whole body,
I no longer would be with my mates every day,
I no longer would feel part of a group,
I was now unsure if I could even get into another school,
My biggest fear was not amounting to anything in life and becoming a failure (funnily enough this fear has always stuck with me)
I had so many worries going around my head but this is where my life began to change.
I started a program run by the princes trust to help me get back into education, and over these months I distanced myself a bit from things and stopped smoking weed.
I got accepted into Cornard upper on a 3 plus 2 program where I went to school for 3 days and had work experience for the other 2.
Although I never felt a part of Cornard upper and never stayed any longer than lunchtime each day, this experience taught me a massive lesson!
The one thing that becomes apparent straight away from this story is the fact that as a young boy we all have this definition of what a man is and should be.
A man is someone who is physically aggressive and strong,
A man is someone who never ever shows any emotions and certainly doesn’t cry,
A man is someone who is a complete stud with women and can sexually satisfy them,
A man is someone who is confident and shows no weaknesses,
A man is someone whose identity is based around how much money he earns,
A man is someone that never expresses his feelings and doesn’t let anything phase him,
A man is someone who is the loudest person in the room,
What i’ve learnt over the last 10 years is that a man is the complete opposite and a boy is all of the above,
I’ve always been afraid of letting people in and expressing my emotions through fear of not being a man,
I’ve always been afraid of sex in case I didn’t match up to their expectations,
I’ve always been embarrassed about my soft side and tried to hide it,
The last few years again i’ve learnt is the exact opposite is now true,
My biggest attraction to someone is a genuine connection and a place where we can both be who we really are and support eachother to grow into the best versions of ourselves,
I’m no longer afraid of sex and also no longer to afraid to admit sex is a massive part of life for me (if you haven’t already read my last 2 blogs on sex and passion)
I will openly admit that I am a softee and a princess at heart and to become a man you have to be confident inside NOT the loudest in the room.
I think as a society we need to redefine the phrase ‘man up’ because this is creating huge problems in the world!
I truly believe if we encourage boys to express their emotions and teach them how to deal with fear the world would be a much better place!
Our girlfriends and wives wouldn’t have to guess how we are feeling,
You wouldn’t get idiot politicians that only care about who has the bigger penis,
You wouldn’t have men under pressure feeling like they need to be studs in the bedroom therefore pushing every opportunity they have with a female away,
Male suicide rates would no longer be on the rise at the rate it is,
Men would have inner strength and confidence and not go in search of external things to make them feel adequate,
Men would be more open and honest in relationships which would create a much more solid foundation,
Men would finally embrace their true selves and not be afraid to be vulnerable.
The dictionaries description of the word masculine is;
Having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with men “he is outstandingly handsome and robust, very masculine”
Now tell me………..
What is more masculine than a man that isn’t afraid to express his emotions, and has bags of inner confidence that doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone???
First photo was 8 years ago I was 22,
Second photo was a couple of months ago just after my 30th Birthday.
What I thought a man was, to now actually becoming a man.