High school is a magical time for some people. High school is a time for early success. You win the track meet. You beat your wrestling opponent. You win the regional speech competition. In those early encounters it is easy to know who your opponent is. In fact you can look up on the scoreboard and see who your opponent is. It’s the guy crouched in front of you.
As men get older it is more difficult to know who your opponent is, and, consequently, it is more difficult to keep score. Men love to keep score. If you are selling insurance who are you battling against? Are you fighting your customer’s indifference to the product? Are you competing against a lower bid? Are you just trying to expand your sales region? It doesn’t matter once you realize that there is no easy way to find your opponent. As an adult the scoreboard is harder to see.
For years, I’ve believed this leads men to a frustration that is difficult to satisfy. I also believe that it puts many men on a road to mid-life crisis, poor self esteem and self-loathing. Men are supposed to be battling an enemy. They are naturally predisposed to fighting and bring home food for their families. In this sophisticated society there is no obvious enemy. We don’t even have job that are physically taxing. We spend time on elliptical machines burning those calories that should have been consumed while hunting deer with a stick or swinging an ax at the enemy’s head.
Think Fight Club.
It is no wonder why young men are wandering without purpose. It is no wonder why middle-aged men buy red sports cars in hopes to remain attractive. It is no wonder why so many men appear to be 7 months pregnant. We have no need to be strong. We have no need to be attractive. We have no reason to be proud. We’ve no reason to get up in the morning.
We need to rediscover who the enemy is. My guess is that we are going to realize that the enemy is us.