Perhaps the greatest injustice society commits is in creating these images of "normality" that are unobtainable and exclusive. We create these fetishes of "lifestyle" promoting Photoshopped bodies, wealthy excess, and gender roles. There's a misogynistic mindset of women as brainless sex icons, revered for their aesthetic appeal rather than their mental acuity. There too is this misandrist mindset that men should be "James Bond" archetypes, revered for their genius and heroism rather than their emotional breadth. Therein lies this chasm between the blue and pink which so many of us precariously straddle, and often try to hide from for fear of being ostracized. I myself have been found in the awkward position of feeling as if I don't belong in this modern generation's definition of romance and masculinity... and I think that there are many of us out there who would feel the same way...
I think men are often the far more romantic, because it’s all we have. As a man, you’re raised by society trained in self-loathing, as a superior brute but an inferior person. You’re conditioned that you’re supposed to be rugged, courageous, detached, and suave-- A perfect machine. You’re told how to treat a woman, and that they are more beautiful than you will ever be. You’re made to feel less than: ugly and with a need to prove yourself. You’re meant to be the knight in shining armor who runs gallivanting off, slays a dragon, and returns to sweep the princess off her feet on a white stallion. These expectations make us vulnerable, because most of us are not that. We are just children who grow taller and more afraid to open up, with feelings bottled up inside trusted to so few. It hurts. We need to be needed. We need someone we can trust absolutely to care about us, someone who will accept this weakness truly and fill the void. Someone who gives us their love and support for the strength to be the man we want to be. I’m no knight, this I well know. I’m the artisan in his shadow, dreaming of romance. But I don’t see why this should make me any less human, any less desiring, or any less deserving…
This in mind, however, every action hero you see tearing through the ceaseless onslaught of foreign hoards, every celebrity you see staring condescendingly at you from the perch of glossy magazine covers, every athlete making a fortune with each passing second sprinting headlong into concussions, is idolized for being this hulking gladiator of a figure. They become a striking visage of confidence that has no footing in reality. In truth, we are all so very wound-able. As much as individually we can all envision ourselves as the hero of our own lives; we can dream ourselves brandishing a shining Walther pistol in one hand and grasping the palm of a gorgeous woman in the other as we dash valiantly and miraculously through the oncoming hail of bullets... none of that is real, and presented such a scenario in the realms of reality we would be no such thing. Our personal "Hero's Journey" is marked not by medals of honor and purple hearts won in the decisive moments of righteous wars, but rather in surviving the stresses of a mundane life and finding inner peace and happiness. I can dream a dream of an anonymous angel, and held in her hands are the two halves of my heart, she being the other half of my soul cleft from me at birth. I can imagine myself in a Welkin of perfection, where our love burns brighter than any star, and in the glimmer of her sapphire eyes shines her returned affections...but the true test of a man is not in finding this Eden, but rather in realizing that we shall meet no perfect people, only imperfect people we see perfectly. You need not find someone to complete you, only someone who accepts you completely.
Be who you want to be, and not who is expected of you, because we each live but a brief century on this Earth, and in the end it has to mean something to you and you alone. No one will live your life for you, and so these memories are yours and yours alone to cherish and create... and if there is a heaven it will be in the legacy you leave behind, in people whose hearts you touched and how they will remember you... So think now: In the end, who will tell the story of your life?
My name is Jeffrey Hepburn, and I'm a young writer, graphic design artist, and aspiring filmmaker.