How to Differentiate Yourself as a Male: Emotional Vulnerability as a Form of Masculinity

In our society teenage boys and young men are constantly expected to be strong, bold, intense, and “manly,” which creates an overlaying stigma against the male who is more openly loving or soft-hearted. In the communities in which teenage boys inhabit, acting in such a manner deems you as “weak,” or tags you with a nickname of “gay” or “girl” (both used in a derogatory sense). This seemingly society-wide standard of presented toughness by young males contributes heavily to both large-scale societal issues, as well as internal, individual hardships. Noticing this, in recent years, I have made a very conscious effort to lean in, and embrace my own emotional vulnerability. I have allowed the walls and barriers that house my prevalent fears of acceptance to lower. I have allowed my heart to take over, and for my emotions to radiate outward. I have found time and time again, that this opening-up, this sharing of love, has allowed me to build and maintain extraordinary relationships not only with others around me, but also with myself.

But vulnerability is difficult. Tenderness can be scary, and when I add in the world’s expectations, and my peer’s opinions, authenticity becomes much more challenging. I have, for the most part, put that all aside, and focused on what I can control. This being my opinion of myself, and the man that I am. Because I do this, and stay true to my identity and my purpose, I am able to explore things such as the very idea of my evolving identity and purpose.

I spend countless hours thinking about my purpose, or my “why.” I think almost constantly about who Brad Biehl really is. I take who I am, being a loving, caring, believing, resilient, contagiously-happy boy, and live that self authentically. I then translate those thoughts into action. This constantly fluid process of revising, rethinking, and exploring my thoughts, and embracing this vulnerability is something that I rarely have seen other teenage boys, or people in general for that matter, try on a regular basis. The opportunity for differentiation among the male population, when one looks within themselves, and dares to think differently, is all right there. The possibility that this vulnerable attitude encompasses is so vastly open for one's exploration and success.