There are the words that we’ve learned, and words we choose, that reinforce daily the definition of what it means to be a man. Words that build ego and hide insecurity. Nicknames. Phrases that mask vulnerability—often with humor. Words intended to characterize and categorize. We hear these words, we internalize them, and then do what every manly man is supposed to do: avoid talking about them, or how they make us feel.
But we do feel them. We project them. We absorb them, and adopt many of them as our own. We shut down, give in and eventually find that we’re boxed in by stereotypes of ourselves, extending out into our families, relationships, and the world around us.