WARNING: If you are looking for a “success story”, you have come to the wrong page.
Success stories are easy to read and even easier to write. The writer is brimming full of newfound confidence. He or she is eager to share their experiences and knowledge with the world. The reader is in a mode of discovery and self-help; stories of success fuel their motivation to improve, perhaps even kick-start a change in habits.
Now, I love to read inspirational stories of people conquering their struggles. But rarely do you find articles discussing “in the moment” hardships. This is what I want to provide you with today.
It is my hope that the take-away is not pity or empathy for me, the writer, but rather that my personal experiences and recommendations can benefit YOUR LIFE right here, right now.
When guys get together they like to DO things—save the talking for the girls, right?
WRONG. Men need other men in their life to confide in and talk with just as much as women need other women. Do not let the men you have in your life get away from you! The importance of men in your life can make or break you in tough times.
When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends. – Japanese proverb
No matter where you are at in your life, every man can benefit from “man-talk”, whether that be a one-on-one phone call with an old college buddy or a night out grabbing pizza and catching up with a group of guys. Without it, a guy can easily fall into isolating habits, especially if he tends to more reserved by nature.
Unfortunately, this is where I have found myself ending up recently—without close guy friends in my life. I want to share my experience to better illustrate what I am getting at with this idea of “man-talk”:
Growing up, I was a reserved shy kid. Talking to girls was out of the question, so I kept my circle of guy friends close. It was not until high school that (with help of raging hormones) I finally reached out really began connecting with the opposite sex.
Yet throughout high school, I had a core group of men I clung to. Sure, we did what a lot of guys do at that age, experimenting with alcohol, drugs, and having a few run-ins with the law. But without my buddies, I never would have made it through those adolescent years.
Things changed in college. I was recruited to run for my school, and put immense pressure on myself both athletically and academically. Our coach always joked, “In college, there is running, school, and a social life—pick two.”
In a way, this rule of thumb held true for the first few semesters. But as injuries came and dreams of running professionally waned, I shifted my focus away from running and academically, engaging in more social activities on campus. By the end of sophomore year I ended up dating a beautiful girl who I am still with today.
Yet something was missing. I thought it was anxiety about the future; I had no idea what I wanted to do with my degree upon graduation, and still felt I needed to prove myself in running to my teammates and coaches.
After four months of being on crutches from surgery on my foot, I spend the summer ruthlessly training to get back in shape. I lost weight—too much weight, and I lost sleep worrying about the future, and returned to campus feeling like a nervous wreck.
My first race back (September of 2013) in over a year was a dream come true. Yet behind my outwardly confident nature loomed fear. I knew it was too good to be true…. I was abusing caffeine to run well off of sleepless nights, and my foot was hurting every time I ran.
Pills to kill the pain only lasted so long. I needed someone to talk to. My girlfriend could only handle so much. I needed a close guy friend to confide in, to lean on.
Mentally, I was a wreck. I felt lost in school, distanced from everyone around me but my girlfriend. I ended up withdrawing from school a month later after failing the first round of exams. I turned to food for support, binging on sugary junk well past the point of feeling full.
Still struggling with sleep, I often stayed up until dawn, sleeping until mid-afternoon the next day.
Fast-forward to the present day: It is currently 5:30 in the morning; needless to say my sleep has not improved much. I am still battling a terrible sugar addiction, and the binges have only increased as I continue to indulge in my cravings.
I am not in school, nor am I employed (yet desperately searching for work). I live with my girlfriend whom I love and adore, and I am forever grateful for her patience with me.
It has taken massive amounts of self-reflection to come up with a painstakingly obvious answer as to what the heck has happened for me to feel so lost and confused:
The importance of MEN, or lack there of! Guys to talk to, guys to confide in. Whether we want to believe it or not, we need relationships with other men to thrive and conquer our passions.
Do you have men in your life that you know has your back, no matter the time of day or whatever situation you may find yourself in? The notion that women talk while men do things together is plain wrong. We need each other for emotional support just as much as women do.
Reach out. Call a friend. Stop by a neighbor’s house to catch-up. Organize a “guys night out” with people from work. Do NOT shut other men out of your life! I became so focused on my own place in life that I let some male friendships go, and boy I wish I could take it all back.
No matter what stage of life you find yourself in, having a few guys to lean in is crucial in becoming the man you want to be. We are in this together. Onwards and upwards!
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