Being a man can be a complex engagement sometimes. It looks very easy to women- and that’s by design- but this gig can be harder than y’all could ever imagine. There is a caveat to that declaration, of course: This excludes dudes that are just trifling and committed to nothing and no one beyond who and what can next feed their phallus. And there are certainly quite a few of those types out there- although not in the numbers that you would expect if you took your cues from pop-culture representations. Here is a quick way to spot one of these guys: When you meet him he is full of tall tales about the absolute hero, big-baller, shot-caller, paid-in-full, boss-nigga he was back home- and it JUST SO HAPPENS that right when you meet him, he’s starting over so he doesn’t have shit to show for what he has done with himself for 38 years. Ladies, throw this one back- no matter how much you may want to get down that particular night.
Now that I’ve told you the easy way to identify this lost-cause, dead-end, fixer-upper that can’t ever be fixed, we can cut him out of the remainder of the discussion. This piece is about men, not old, over-grown boys that can’t take care of themselves and so they need women to do it for them.
The challenge of manhood is balancing your own interests and desires with those of the people that you are charged with providing for, guiding, and protecting. And because it is truly a blessing and a privilege to be in that role, we have to take it seriously. I know that the fantasy that has been sold as long as love stories have been told is that those interests are one in the same, but all too often that is not the case. And we have to find a way to put the interests of our families above our own as often as we can without becoming bitter and without losing touch with who we are, what we want and the life path that will allow us to self-actualize. That’s a lot to account for but that is what we have to do. And we don’t have a prayer of successfully managing that balance without some help- a guide through unknown terrain or at least a relatable North Star. I believe that star has a name and it is Michelle Obama.
If Michell Obama were riding shot-gun with you every day, how would you conduct yourself? Now, if your first reflex is to say you don’t give a fuck what she thinks then you are in that first category of worthless assholes described up top and this does not pertain to you. And I will let you slide if your first reflex is to figure that if she might be checking for you- after all, why is she riding in YOUR whip instead of flying the friendly skies with Barack in his retirement? She must be creeping!! No sir- not in this lifetime. In this alternative reality, Michelle Obama is like your favorite teacher or coach in high school- supporting you genuinely, wanting you to succeed, giving you honest and earnest feedback, kicking your ass to prepare you, and holding you accountable to perform. She is going to be standing in the wings as you go about your day and conduct your business- all of your business. Who amongst us would not absolutely positively be putting his very best foot forward knowing this woman was watching and waiting with this look if we act an ass?
Even the worst of us, those that struggle the most with the issues that tend to undermine our success in our professional pursuits and family life would make an attempt to be significantly better.
What is best is that our motives for upgrading our game would be pure. We have better sense than to believe Michelle Obama wants us- regardless of what we’ve got or how well we can work it. We know that she is just there watching- and that under her watch an unknown state senator from Illinois with a ridiculous name became the 44th President of the United States. Of course, Barack had to be him but make no mistake about it: that shit would NEVER have happened if he didn’t have exactly the right type of woman at his side, on his arm, and having his back. Not a chance in hell. And Michelle Obama is that woman. So yes, we would love to legitimately impress her by how we manage the challenges of manhood, fatherhood and all the rest.
True, there is only one Barack, but there’s only one of each of us too and we would love for her to respect us and see us in the light that she saw Barack in: absolutely all of the tools and power in the world just waiting to be directed and supported. There can only be one president at a time but there is plenty of room for lots of legitimately impressive men out here and we all have a chance to be that fully in our own lives. Just knowing this brilliant lady is watching would help us get there. Somewhere at our core, none of us would want to disappoint her. And if we find that we are conducting ourselves in a way that would be pleasing to her, we’ll probably find that we are pleasing the people who actually belong to us. And we’ll all be better for it.