I have a word to coin for a concept that’s likely been in your life at some point, if only for a day, or a week, or a month.
It blocked your ability to meet women, but not to be out and about socially.
It thwarted your sense of pride in your work, but not enough to prevent you from getting out of bed every morning to take the bus to that office cubicle.
You already know what it means, I suspect. If you are a man, you have very likely felt it at some point in your life … if even for an hour or a day or a week.
As the name might imply, it has something to do with “depression,” and also something to do with “masculinity.” It is a situation specific to men, and which only men would find themselves in.
This is not a newsletter or a site for actual health care. It’s about discussing issues that are important to men. In kind, leaving aside clinical diagnoses, I’m sure there was a time in your life that you just felt bad about yourself, about how your life is going. You wish there had been more for you, and you maybe didn’t even have the words for what you were experiencing.
It didn’t feel like something you needed to go get checked – it just felt “blah.” You could still go to work, socialize or have friendships, but there was just a gnawing sensation that “something was missing” for you.
At times in the past I have talked about Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey,” and how a feature of that model of growing the life of a man has periods in it he called “The Wasteland.”
These times are challenging: it’s where the hero doubts himself, is on the losing end of his quest, and is very uncertain about what to do to overcome the setback, or how things will turn out.
If you’ve ever wondered about this and what to call it, chances are you were suffering from a hit to both your self-esteem – you felt sad or angry or fearful – and you also felt a hit to your very sense of masculinity itself. Your identity as a man who feels solidly on his own two feet.
That’s what I’m calling Depresculinity, and there’s no medicine for it (because it’s about your specific social and career challenges, not a clinical set of symptoms).
There’s no routine advice about it that applies to everyone in a cookie-cutter way (and it does not apply to women at all). Depresculinity needs to be recognized for what it is – something that happens in the actual narrative story of your life, and which one could say takes specific masculine skills and competence – male life lessons – to overcome.
These are the type of skills and lessons that a father might deliver. It has to do with initiation into being a man, and with your sense of mastering those social, vocational, and personal skills that one could say are specific to men only.
Let’s look a little more closely at what’s at work—and what’s at stake—in this situation we are calling “Depresculinity …”
Depression is quite well-known, of course, in terms of what causes it and cures it (or at least tries to), but that’s not what we are talking about here. For that, go to a local professional.
Instead, we are talking about a vague sense that something isn’t quite working for you. You feel like you could be more vigorous, vital, and excited about who you are, and you feel it to be something only men in the same shoes share with you.
If you looked to your emotions, you might feel a bit sad, and perhaps also just a bit worried or concerned. But not enough so as to feel that you need to take off work – there are bills to pay after all.
Not enough that you stop socializing or talking to friends – they actually make you feel quite a bit better, at least when you are around them in person.
It’s self-esteem we are talking about – what I define as both a sense of well-being, and of confidence in equal measures. Yet you know well that walking around with poor self-esteem is not necessarily something that can get labeled an out-and-out depression.
It’s not that severe a problem emotionally, but you just sense that it does impact your life and your performance, both in terms of women and work.
And that’s where what I call the “Equation of Masculinity” walks in …
Masculinity is a word you have certainly heard, and always kind of knew what it meant, at least in general. A kind of energy, or vitality, but also something to do with your sense of identity as a man. You know that it is a good thing for a man to have, and feels terrible when diminished or otherwise “cut off from” being available in you at the ready.
However you have defined the word in the past, or even if you’ve never bothered, it has something to do with this equation:
Masculinity = Skill With Women + Progress on a Career Mission
There it is, right from the MMP training program.
There is a lot built into this equation even though it looks like a simple thing. I said, “simple,” not “simplistic.”
When you have learned something new about women, or appealed to them more than before, it feels pretty good, doesn’t it ? You might even say it feels great. In fact, it’s beyond great – it feels like being completely alive, completely passionate about life – much like falling in love.
Likewise, when you make progress in your career – something major, like a raise, a new job more attuned to who you are, or even something minor and subtle (a bigger office, a title just a bit more like what you always wanted to grow up to be when you were a boy), it feels good, right ?
No, beyond good. It’s great ! No, it feels like “really living,” like being alive, feeling passionate about life itself. It’s good to be alive.
It turns out that all the things we know as being masculine are also built in here – a sense of leadership and territory, an ambition to win in competition, a need to be on a team all striving for the same goal. They are here too.
It’s just that “winning” a game of checkers, or “owning” your half of a shared bathroom as a roommate, or being on a knitting “team” don’t carry anywhere near as much “oomph” as “winning” a new job, or “winning over” the woman you have liked for months, “owning” your first house or the business you run, being out with other single friends meeting women, or on a sports team that just won the regional community hockey championship.
Now those get you feeling alive and full of passion for life.
Clearly, the variables in the equation matter – those specific variables. While competition, territory, rank, teamwork, and leadership are all part of being a man, what they are applied to makes all the difference in terms of feeling what we mean by this word, “passion.”
What does it mean to feel the opposite flavor of this word, “passion ?”
If you re-read the section above, you’ll see that it is one in the same as feeling not only a bit “less than alive,” but less masculine, or in touch with and in command of “masculinity.”
And that is what I mean by Depresculinity – feeling less alive as a man, less vital, less passionate for life as you know or wish you could be.
Certainly the word “passion” pertains to the area of romance. Yet notice how the word “passion” is also about the experience of just being alive, vitality itself – which is to say more than just “surviving” or “getting by.” It’s about “being the man,” being the best you can be, or heading in that direction.
For many men, there is a connection to their fathers here, to mentorship with them, to learning skills and competence from them (or not), and ultimately a sense of the passion of “aliveness” in the activities you have chosen as your vocation (just as your father once had to do, and his father, and his father …)
You get a sense of belonging, as a man, to a heritage in this way – through your career choice and the involvement (or not) of your father and a whole lineage of men. When you are cut off from that heritage, that lineage, that ancestral “team” in the way we have been today, there is an ennui, a loss of passion, and by extension, a diminished access to the masculinity that you want in your being.
In past times, there were initiation rituals, for example, which memorialized this “passing of the torch” to you…all of which we address in the Mature Masculine Power Program.
See, you take these subtle things – a reduction of self-esteem, which may not be out and out clinical depression, yet is nevertheless not happy – and a reduction in your access to, cultivation, and strengthening of your own level of masculinity … a cut-down of it occurring in the areas of women and or work …
… and you have a recipe for the felt sense of Depresculinity.
One of the most common problems in personal growth is that you have a sense that something’s wrong, you know you ought to or wish you could do something about it, but when it got right down to the matter, you really didn’t know what was wrong, and therefore how to do something to fix it.It would take labeling the thing in order to know what to even call it, and then breaking it down into its parts to actually do something about it. In Depresculinity, there’s a vague sense of not feeling as vital as you could, and perhaps you don’t know where to start.
Start with these:
1. Well-being: There are needs not met in life, and you feel hungry in a way. You want more of your needs met. Define what they are.
2. Confidence: There are fears you have, and you haven’t addressed or faced them head-on. Define what they are.
3. Skill with Women: There are skills to build here, whether in approaching women for dates, communicating effectively, knowing what the right kind of woman is for you, or perhaps you’re even in a relationship and don’t feel like “the man” in it. Define these.
4. Progress on Career Mission: There are challenges you haven’t managed to rise to, obstacles to overcome, bars to reach, or victories to win. You sense that there are skills and resources to build to be more fit to make that happen. Define these.
If you don’t have the time, then you don’t have to do this. At least you’ve achieved clarity on what causes the “Depresculinity” feeling – this not-so-good experience.
Yet if you do have the time to do this (and it’s not a rush), try these four:
1. Assertiveness to get a need or two met – maybe more sleep or exercise, make a friend, or get some work done you’ve been putting off.
2. Courage to face a fear, even if you start with a small one, like smiling more at people, or speaking up in public, or disagreeing with someone of minor impact on your life.
3. A trial run at trying a skill or two with women you think you lack. Even if it doesn’t go well, you know that you cared enough to try and learned something from it.
4. An action in your career that you know will move things even a little bit forward to your career goals – a study course, a phone call, some paperwork you’ve been delaying.
You will have made an actual move in the four known causes of Depresculinity that I identify, and I’d be willing to bet that you feel at least a measurable bit better, and in a lasting way.
Rinse, repeat. And at a pace and degree you can handle.