Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. -Albert Einstein
Hopefully this quote goes without needing explanation. Just know that if you’re out there and you’re having a hard time, a hard day or a hard life, you are your own genius and you’re not alone.
I’m not male. I think that’s obvious by the posts that I’ve made on this blog. That being said, following my ‘Struggles of being a girl’ posts, I was challenged to come up with what I believe are ‘Struggles of being male’.
If you’re a guy and you’re reading this – if I am way off here, please don’t get offended. Please feel free to teach me more of what it’s like to be a male in 2019. After all, I am all about learning and I would genuinely like to know more of what it’s like to ‘wear your shoes’ so to speak.
Without further adieu, here goes:
- Societal expectations of ‘manliness’. I definitely don’t think it’s easy to be a man in a world where societal definitions of ‘manliness’ is to always be tough and always be strong and always be the ant holding the world on his shoulders. While I’m sure that every man has inherent toughness to him, I don’t think it can be an easy feat to always be ‘on’ and never be allowed to be vulnerable, or to struggle, or to just have a bad day. A lot of men in this world don’t/won’t talk about their feelings because of the notion that it makes them look weak… and that is not fair.
- Being turned-on in public. While I don’t witness this frequently (due to the fact that I definitely don’t wander around looking at men’s crotch areas) I have witnessed this a few times in my life. I can imagine that it’s extremely uncomfortable and awkward when it happens, especially because it can quite often be something out of a guy’s control. I reckon it’s a definite struggle of being male.
- All guys being labeled as bad guys. There are absolutely some pretty horrendous human beings who are a part of the male gender in this world. Those particular bad guys tend to ruin things for the rest of the gender because it’s so easy to right off guys as bad when one treats you poorly. I don’t think it comes from a place of malice when a girl labels guys as bad (the broken-heart can cause some serious judgement), but I do believe it’s not fair to the nice-guys and the good guys of this world when it happens.
- You’re expected to pay for everything. I’m truly not sure where this notion comes from. Perhaps it’s partially due to wage disparity, but probably largely due to the ‘manliness looks after’ notion, either way, I don’t think that it’s fully fair to men that they’re required to pay for everything. Whether it a meal, or a manicure, or whatever the expense may be, I have friends who will make the men in their lives pay for it. They’re not their husbands, or boyfriends, or even relations – they’re just guys they expect to buy them things. I don’t think that’s fair, or right. You shouldn’t be required to buy a girl something just to remain in her orbit.
- Facial Hair. As a female, I complain a lot about shaving my legs. But, truth be told, if I don’t want to shave my legs, I can put on pants and no one will be the wiser. Facial hair, on the other hand, you cannot hide. To those of you who shave every day, I commend you. You’re amazing. It’s also amazing how fast facial hair can grow. To shave in the morning and feel that 5’o clock shadow by the end of the work day – that has got to be annoying. And I’m bet that girls heckling you about the equivalence of kissing a chia-pet only makes shaving that much more annoying. Facial hair just seems as though it would be a massive annoyance.
- Double standards. I can’t imagine how frustrating it is when a man suffers or struggles with a very real issue that women deal with every day and, as a man, he’s treated as though it doesn’t matter. Men can be sexually harassed, too. And when they are, often times people either don’t believe them or they use the stereotypical ‘Man Up’ response, as though the harassment shouldn’t matter because they’re a man and they should be tough. Some women treat men awfully, and society expects them to grin and bear it and for that, just know – I hear you, I understand you and I feel your frustrations/pains.
- Balding. Seriously – balding must be a real bitch. (Please forgive my language, I felt it a necessary inflection of the sentence) If you’re one of the lucky ones (cough ~ John Stamos) who’ll have luscious hair forever, count your blessings. But, for the majority of men, society isn’t always kind about a man’s appearance when his hair is thinning. Also – tying this to the facial hair point – how weird is it that the hair on the top of your head starts thinning but the hair on your chin stays bushy like a werewolf forever? I don’t understand. Either way, though, I feel you.
- Guys are not always kind to one another. I’ve noticed this quite a lot, actually. Unless they’re friends, I’ve noticed that guys can be quite mean to each other – both to one another’s faces and behind each other’s backs. It’s got to be tough to think that you’re in competition with someone just because he’s there and he exists.
- Urinals. I don’t really think this one needs explanation – so I will just say – peeing in front of other men has got to create some really weird/awkward situations.
As with all struggles, I am sure that there are a ton. I could likely go on and on with this list, but I will leave it here for now. If you’re a guy and you read this, I hope that I’m not too far out-of-touch with the struggles that you face. If you have any struggles that you’d like to add to my list, or you’d like to educate me on anything that I’ve included on this list, I welcome the discussion.
I realize with the last list that I made that there are so many struggles that come with being a girl. And so, I’ve compiled a part two. This is meant to look at things in a light-hearted way, but also, to be informative and serious. This list is not meant to bash anyone or tear anyone down. I’m also not whining, I’m just talking about the very real reality of being a female in 2019. Here goes:
- “Don’t be such a girl” and”Don’t be such a pussy” and “You’re such a whiny little bitch” and so on and so forth… We’ve all heard them before. It’s likely that we’ve even said them ourselves a few times without realizing what we’re doing. Have you ever noticed though, when someone from the male gender is insulted, he’s referred to as having some sort of feminine characteristics… implying that females are weak, horrible and whiny. I most often hear men use them as insults, but I will say that women do it as well. Whenever I hear it though, I remind people that if their main form of insulting someone is by degrading my entire gender, they’re coming off looking pretty stupid.
- The Pink Tax. Have you ever looked at two like products, identical even, one marketed towards women and one marketed towards women? The women’s item costs more. Always. Companies put higher prices on items marketed towards women – though it might be just small, it’s something that adds up. 8% here, 10% there and you can look at thousands of dollars by the time a year is done. Where you can, if you know about the Pink Tax, you can buy the products marketed towards men. But, it’s not always possible. And imagine how much that adds up over a lifetime. Next time you’re in the grocery store – wander down the aisle and compare like products of men’s shave gel to women’s shave gel, or a men’s razor to a women’s razor. There will be a difference in price.
- Wage Disparity. It’s a proven fact that women earn 79 cents for every dollar that a man makes for like positions of employment. I happen to have experienced this firsthand at my last position – where I had a male counterpart with no education, four years less experience than I and little-to-no knowledge of the industry, who made 12,000 more per year than I made. This happens everywhere. Men seem to be valued more in work environments in spite of what a female may bring to the table. I have a friend who, in an entry level position obtained with his bachelor’s degree, makes more in his second year of work than his wife does with a PhD and five years experience. Now I understand they work in different industries, but how does a doctor make less than someone who barely scraped through a bachelors degree? I think that it’s something people gripe about, but then often forget about and move on with their lives because it seems like a battle too big to wage. But honestly, I wish there were more people talking about it. There are doctors, lawyers, welders, mechanical engineers, and so many more women who are making less than there male counterparts for seemingly no other reason than they are not male.
- Feminine hygiene products are a ‘luxury’. This is an important thing to to note – in many parts of the United States, and the world for that matter, feminine hygiene products are taxed as being a luxury item. This has nothing to do with the Pink tax, this has to do with government’s making a willing decision to declare these products as something that is not needed, but rather, something we just choose to buy because we like them. This luxury tax can range anywhere from 5 to 14 percent, for the purchase of something that is ‘not a necessity’ according to government. I don’t know when PMS became a choice, but if I could choose to be without it, I would. In the meantime though, it seems like a lofty price to pay over a lifetime solely for the fact that you’re a woman with properly functioning body parts.
- When your bra tries to kill you. (Okay, I’m being a bit dramatic with that leadup) It’ll happen so casually, you’re just out one day – walking down the street in the sunshine with a friend or your dog and bam… out of nowhere there’s a sharp pain in your chest. Just because the laws of the universe say you can never keep your comfortable bras, one wire has exploded out the side of your bra and shoved itself into your skin, possibly hard enough to cause you to bleed. It doesn’t happen very often, but I’m certain that every girl knows how it feels.
- Trying to run with big boobs, or boobs in general. I’m not a runner. That is largely in part to the size of my boobs. I explained it to a male friend of mine once by asking him to put his backpack on his front instead of his back, and then telling him to run down the road. I genuinely think he understood after that point. It’s just… harder. If you’re a girl and you’re a runner – I commend you. Girl you are my hero.
- Being slut shamed without being slut shamed. Honestly, when you try to explain a story of something that made you uncomfortable, or scared, or mad, about an interaction with someone and the person you’re telling the story to asks “what were you wearing?”, that’s a real piss off. That’s how you slut shame someone without calling them a slut and I hate it. I hate it when I hear that phrase. Whether you’re wearing a mini skirt or a down parka, it really doesn’t give anyone the right to mistreat you.
- When we focus on our work we’re considered not girly enough and we when we focus on our looks we’re considered vain. That’s really all there is to it. No explanation necessary.
- Bobby pins and hair ties seem to grow legs and walk away. I can’t even fathom how much money I’ve spent on these items over the years. Where do they all go? Perhaps they’re all having a party somewhere in the sunshine. Oh, it’s especially the worst when you’re down to your last hair tie and you go to put up your hair in a nice ponytail and the hair tie breaks in your hand. Cringe.
Regardless of your gender I think we can all agree that we need to be nice to one another. Everyone goes through struggles in life and we’ve all got a battle to fight. Be kind.
Struggles of being a girl, part one >
These things, they may seem rather straight forward, but, sometimes it’s just nice to see things in writing to remind myself. I know that I need a reminder every day. I also find this list is filled with things that are really easy to overlook/talk yourself out of doing.
- Drink water. There are integral benefits to your body when you fill it with lots of water each and every day. Feel a headache coming on? Drink some water. Feeling thirsty and tired? Drink some water. Bored? Drink some water. It’s not a be all to end all cure, but it sure does help in a lot of ways.
- Wash your face. Your face is your first impression – get yourself a gentle cleanser, one without fragrance, and make sure that you’re washing it. Get rid of the dirt and impurities that might be hiding in your skin after a long day of it being filled with pollutants. Guy or girl, your skin will thank you for it.
- Watch the news. Read the news. Listen to the news. And I mean the news, not a facebook or twitter update. I believe that it’s highly important for EVERYONE to be informed of what is happening in the world. You might not think that things half a world away will have an affect on you, but when Saudi oil prices rise or goods from China are more heavily taxed, these things will make a difference in all our lives. Really, I could go on and on about this one – but I’ll just leave it with – keep yourself in the know so that you don’t look like a fool if you don’t.
- Be active. Whatever this looks like for you and your body and your lifestyle, do it. Stretch, go for a ten minute walk, go to the gym, do some yoga, do whatever it is that you can to get your body moving and your endorphins running. Endorphins trigger positivity… and who doesn’t want to be more positive?
- Stay organized and clean. There is truth to the statement ‘healthy space, healthy mind’. Walking into a dirty house, bedroom or bathroom can fill you with anxiety. Don’t allow yourself those triggers. Keep your home organized and clean.
- Wear sunscreen… EVEN ON CLOUDY DAYS. UVA and UVB rays can penetrate you anywhere and everywhere. Protect your skin from being leathery and wrinkly when you get old, and protect yourself from the very real reality that is skin cancer. That’s not meant as a scare tactic. It’s just something that’s true. It’s so easy to put on sunscreen, so why not?
- Eat breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, nutritionally speaking. It sets your metabolism for the rest of the day and it either makes, or breaks (if you don’t eat it) your energy that you can put forth during the day. Start your day with a nutritious breakfast and notice the difference in makes in how you operate the rest of the day.
- Face your fears. Insecurities are something that can very easily eat away at you if you let them. But, if you go out and go after your fears each day, even if it’s in a small way, they’re not going to feel so big the next day. I think Lululemon penned the saying originally, but ‘do one thing a day that scares you’.
- Ask yourself “Do I really need this?” In this day and age, it’s really easy to purchase things that you don’t need but feel the desire to buy because of a whim. If you have a hard time keeping a budget, or even if you don’t, don’t be someone who collects thing just to collect them. If it’s going to take up space and clutter your life, you don’t need to bring it home from the store.
- Remember who you are. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like being yourself isn’t good enough. If you’ve got a sense of humour, if you’ve got a bubbly personality, let those shine through. Let the world see who you are and don’t ever shy away from that. The best people in this world show exactly who they are. Don’t ever be afraid of that.
She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”JD Salinger
I would like to dedicate this post to my mother who is currently undergoing treatments for cancer. She is a lover and now a fighter, a warrior and the strongest woman that I know. Thank you, mom, for always being the light at the end of the tunnel and for always holding the universe together. I am so proud to be your daughter.
Here’s to all of the badass women in this world who continue to push us forward, make us better and make the universe more. I am forever grateful to know you, to love you and to aspire to be like you.
Who are the women and girls in your life that you admire? Who do you aspire to be more like?