“What do you want to be when you grow up, Andrew?” “A Doctor!”, I confidently replied. No one told me that anxiety, depression and an unhealthy sense of self would try to take that dream from me. Unaware of societal changes and pressures subtly informing my identity and direction, I wandered alone into my 20s, thinking I was the only one. I wasn’t. I am not. Melinda’s conversation with an all-male panel shares common struggles men face across their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50s.
It was a gift for me to witness Theo, Shawn, Matt and Dave share some of their challenges navigating and redefining their identity, roles and expectations as the decades progress.
Traditionally, 20 somethings are expected to know where they’re going yet they’re still trying to find who they are and where they belong. The quest for identity and purpose is clouded by contradictory voices all around.
Whether or not they’ve figured out who they are, men in their 30’s find themselves in overlapping, demanding and continually evolving roles as husbands, fathers, employees/employers often feeling unprepared and fatigued. The expectation here is to be strong, sensitive and available despite being spread terribly thin.
In the 40’s, we’re finally starting to figure things out, narrowing our focus and on some level redefining ourselves with a keen gaze on what matters most. Nevertheless, a song of grief for unrealized dreams is playing in the background.
Wisdom and experience of the 50’s often involves starting over, reconnecting with spouses now that the children are gone and managing the critical needs of aged and aging parents.
While, many of these challenges have been faced gracefully by most women, the biggest difference between men and women is the amount of communication and connection amongst them. This particular discussion displays the blessing of allowing Christ and his community to speak to us about who we are across our years. The encouraging shift men have needed and are now witnessing is connecting and investing our experiences and our trust in each other.
What a tremendous experience!
Dr. Andrew L. Blackwood, “Coach Drew”