Not being a man’s man

A young man feels conflicted about what’s expected of him

Written by Anonymous

So I’m 21 year old lad, who has always loved GAA, despite the fact that I’m useless at it. I love wearing tracksuits, but also love my fashion. I go the the gym, but then I come home and gather arts and crafts for the 25 six year olds that I teach every day. Life for me is about contradictions.

So I’m finished college since May, and I was very lucky to have got my dream job in the local primary school. I quit my soul destroying part-time job soon after. I have lots of close friendships. I am close with my family. Yet I’m not happy.

Having struggles with anxiety for the past number of years, I can finally say that I have improved dramatically. I’m now at my most confident ever, but there’s still something not quite right. Unfortunately, I have never had a relationship with a girl. This, without any doubt, is my biggest problem (in my opinion). Subsequently, I still feel incredibly self conscious when it comes to asking girls out, or even chancing girls on nights out. For this, I feel horrible. I haven’t enjoyed a night out in months. I can’t drink pints because I hate the taste, and I can’t get the shift, because I can’t get the confidence to ask a girl. I come home feeling angry after every nightclub outing. Yet, I feel incredibly satisfied a few days later.

You see, where I come from, and where I went to teacher training, a lad my age is expected to play GAA, look good, shift girls etc. The nature of teaching requires confidence, however, that can become arrogance. Every lad was the same. But then there’s me. Despite having vast similarities with my arrogant peers (GAA, Teaching, Confidence, Dress Sense) I only had a small circle of true friends, and in all honesty, I hated most of my year group because of this arrogance.

Life as a pretty normal 21 year old lad isn’t easy. I strive to be “one of the lads”, yet I hate what they represent. Maybe it’s just me, but I think we are losing our uniqueness as “lads”. Maybe in 5 years, we will actually be all the same, and things will be easier, but for now, I’m different, and I don’t know what society wants me to be.

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