For this week’s blog, as Hear Me Roar is the main thing on my mind at the moment, I thought I’d try something a little bit different, and share with you the letter I contributed to Becci Sharrock’s Letters to Myself project. I hope to see many of you in Lancaster 8th – 12th March!
I realise that in starting my letter this way, you might think I am not addressing you directly.
You might think you’re still just a boy, or you might think I’m not all men… You might even wonder if this is addressed to you if you weren’t born in a male body.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you might be thinking… I am indeed addressing you. You, right there, reading this. Yes, you. Thank you for bearing with this.
For a long time, I wasn’t particularly aware of my gender. I was bobbing along being who I am, carrying with me all the bits of identity that have built up over the years. All at once, I was carrying my social background, the religion I was raised with, my heritage, my age, my sexuality, my education and no doubt, many other things. Being a man was just a tiny, inconsequent piece of a multifarious thing called who I am.
For the most part, who I am, was almost always all about me. Sure, it had some relationship to other people in my life; family, friends, lovers, colleagues… but my starting point was always myself. I couldn’t see how who I was had any bearing on anyone else, in the grand scheme of things. Never mind society, or the world.
And that was fine. It worked. I was bobbing along being who I am, carrying with me all the bits of identity that have built up over the years.
Chances are, this resonates with you. Chances are, you’re bobbing along too. Chances are you are or have been thinking I can’t help being who I am…
And that’s fine. It works.
I have an invitation for you. I’d like to invite you to consider that you can choose who you are. Are you willing to try that on? Great, thank you.
Every day, I choose who I am. In every waking moment, I choose who I am. Whatever the circumstances, I choose who I am.
This gives me the opportunity to choose that I am you, and you are me.
I am you, and you are me.
Remember, I mean you, really you, reading this.
This gives me the opportunity to choose that I am playfulness, love, contribution…
This gives me the opportunity to choose that I am creativity, serenity, equality…
In choosing this, I begin to notice where it is missing. I begin to notice where I am missing.
And I can take responsibility… Not like a prime minister or a president, not like a superhero or a god… Just with what’s there, what’s on hand, what’s possible…
Whichever kind of man you are, whatever categories you might fit in, whichever bits of identity you’re carrying with you… notice what’s possible, choose who you are and stand your ground.
Being a man – whichever kind of man – comes with an undeniable privilege.
Will you choose to keep it to yourself? If you would do me the favour of trusting me for a moment, I would promise you that it will grow when you share it…