Our world is full of conflicting comments and opinions. We are told that we should believe this or that, that we should focus on this TV series or movie, that we should avoid this movie or that song. We are told that this person is trustworthy, and this person is a role model, yet we can’t trust others.

We hear these conflicts when it comes to who we should be, and what we should believe. We are told that a man or a woman should act in a certain way, that this is proper, and this is not. In my journey through life as a man, I have heard many ideas as to how I should be and how I should act.

Men today are told that they should be strong, silent, emotional, stoic, open, protective, trusting, fragile, proud, vulnerable, closed off, simple, complex and the list goes on and on.

If you are confused as you read through this, think of how many men feel as they struggle with these expectations.

Expectations are difficult to manage for most men because they are not ones who we ourselves come up with. They are thrust upon us; they are given to us at birth by our family and friends; they are shown to us through social media and society at large. But they are not our expectations, so how can anyone measure up? How can anyone live up to these ideas if they are not ones that suit them? The answer is that no one can truly live up to these expectations.

So, men struggle. We struggle with unmet and unattainable expectations that we didn’t create and because of that are not prepared to meet, not prepared to become. We fail because we cannot achieve these goals. Men struggle with being real and open and vulnerable. Men struggle with relationships. Mostly men struggle with being themselves. Many have grown up without role models of men who have true friends, who have people who they trust to share their fears and past.

So, what to do? Men need to have other men as friends, as partners, as sounding boards for true dreams and fears and worries. We will find out that many if not most men have the same fears. Fears of failing, of not being good enough or strong enough or man enough for their families and loved ones. Fears that if we share our deepest thoughts, our loved ones will think less of us, that we will no longer be manly enough for them. These fears can spiral to shame and guilt, anxiety and even depression. These thoughts can keep men away from the very ones who can bring them comfort and peace.

So, what happens next? For men, we need to find one man, one person who we can trust and have a true open honest discussion. This can be scary and take a great deal of time. Being open with anyone is difficult to say the least, being open about our deepest worries and fears can be terrifying. Yet this is needed and down deep, we want to have a relationship like that.

For women, be patient. The man you love has all the same emotions that you do, has many of the same struggles that you go through. Yet he may not be as confident in those emotions, he may not be as comfortable expressing them as you. When your man expresses or shares these emotions, thank him. Let him know that you are grateful for the sharing so he may be more comfortable in doing that again. It will take time and patience with one another. In the end, you will both grow, and you will grow closer together.