There is and should be no shame in admitting the life lessons from men that, having picked up on over the years, have made me into the woman I am today. Naturally, with the extent of the experiences they have amassed and the world they have been allowed to see, unaffected by patriarchal norms hammering into them the idea that they are the inferior gender, there is a lot men are permitted to know that women traditionally haven’t been.
This comes from someone who, for the better part of her life, has walked ahead with an army of sisters, mothers, girlfriends, women I met once, women I don’t even know, watching over her back. That validation for me has forever come from women, like and unlike myself. But my puzzle would be incomplete without my men completing my pieces to make me whole.
5 Life Lessons From Men We Can All Learn:
1. Stay in touch with your emotions
Yeah, I know. This one seems like a misfit here, given how the general perception and appearance is that the male gender is conditioned to distance themselves from their emotions. But witnessing that reality from childhood up until now has reaffirmed in me the sheer importance – no, necessity – of staying in touch with yourself.
Women are dubbed emotional creatures. Even if this generalisation were true, where is the weakness? It speaks of great strength when a person is honest enough to let themselves feel what they are feeling. Though they shouldn’t, men holding back on this capacity underlines precisely why letting your emotions flow should be non-negotiable.
2. Don’t skip any skills
My father – the biggest, most impactful male figure in my life – has forever pushed me to learn more. Whether it is in regard to education or driving or cooking or learning how to fix a broken gadget or planning my finances, the focus on bolstering skills has been on me, despite me having an older brother.
Maybe I’m his favourite child (sorry, bro) or maybe it is his bit for women empowerment, but being taught the value of life skills by a man of the world – who possesses all those skills of sustenance himself too – is priceless to me.
3. Money matters
If there’s one thing the men around me – relatives, friends, acquaintances, classmates – have always held more knowledge about, it is money matters. By the way our society is designed, the ‘harder’ skills of sustenance, like finances, are handed down from father to son and so on. Men are expected to have this education while women are left behind with the assurance that another man will handle their money for them.
Simultaneous with having my father teach me money management, the angst of being pointlessly ignorant in a circle of men has been a motivation for me to take my money into my own hands and know what to do with it.
4. Practicality is important
Without generalisation for men the world over, I can safely say that many – not all – men I have encountered have been standing proofs of the importance being practical plays in one’s life. In the moments I was an irrational wreck not thinking straight, solid advice to pick up my pieces and get on with clarity has come from the friends and brothers I know.
Thinking from the heart should not always be the option, but emotional fools like myself don’t pay heed to practicality in our vulnerable periods. With a little help from my sisterhood as well as my male pillars, I am learning everyday to build myself – a practical-feeling cross-breed in progress.
5. Get out of your comfort zone
Convention has never encouraged women to step out of the laxman rekha patriarchy has drawn for them. Stick to your motherhood duties, live by household routines, stay bent in obeisance before elders, do what you’re expected to and that will prove your value as a woman. This is the metric most Indian women have lived by for eons and so, this has become a comfort zone they are hesitant to leave.
Men on the other hand have always had the privilege to do more, be more, live more. A man who takes chances on himself or lives on the edge is marvelled at, as he should be. Turning patriarchy on its head, women would do well to draw on this advantage men have to step, not a toe, but a whole foot out of line.
Views expressed are the author’s own.