International Men’s Day – November 19

Happy International Men’s day to everyone.

This year’s theme for the Men’s day is Better health for Men and Boys. We are living in unprecedented times. One can proudly say that we are in one of the pivotal moments of the history. We are not affected as badly as the generation which fought world wars and plagues. But still, this year made a dent on everyone’s life.

Men too are slaves of the patriarchal system. Except for Iceland maybe, across the world, Men die younger than women do. Who lives a fuller life is something that warrants a separate post (The answer is nobody). But the man made reasons like peer pressure to smoke, drink, do drugs, work till you drop had made things as basic as health a luxurious commodity for men. Worse is, Men are less likely to visit doctor for their mental and physical ailments. 80% of drowning victims are male, simply because they are not expected to take help from women life guards.  Men are always identified as breadwinners of the family even in 2020. If you take your sister/girlfriend/wife to a restaurant you can see the bill is pushed towards you at the end. Such gestures are very much ingrained in our daily lives that we don’t even think twice about it.

Men are expected to win always. This win can be very insignificant like getting to work on time or even get some hundred crores funding to their projects. I am not including the other genders here because survival itself is a win for them. This pandemic saw many men breakdown because of the fear that they will not be able to shoulder the responsibility. In their heart they know that the women in the house will manage with whatever that is brought to home but still the unreasonable urge to win and be at the top of their game all the time even when the world is burning with various issues both natural and man made is very sad.

Let me tell you something about winning. I am obsessed about winning. When I think I have achieved what I could in a particular domain, I move on to the other one. By 29, I was bald, chain smoker, layers of fat around my waist and so anxious that I couldn’t sleep for 18 days straight. Even when everything went fine, I used to worry about what if this doesn’t last. Then I took a magic pill.

It was the gym. (I am not advocating six packs, shredded look, dad bod here). After avoiding looking at the mirror for some months finally three years back I decided to face my fear and enrolled in a gym. Like always I want to ace it, courtesy the transformation videos from Instagram and YouTube. I went hard on weights and the cardio. But I couldn’t feel any change. I was spent at the end of the session but it only added to my anxiety that I was failing.  I couldn’t understand where I was going wrong. My trainer volunteered to observe for a day and provide inputs.

His opinion was I was afraid of failure. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. How is that a problem? Winning is essential according to me. There is no two ways about it. Why can’t it apply in gym? My trainer explained me patiently though. If you want to grow, you have to fail. You have to make that failure as a platform and grow more. If you think you can do fifteen repetition of an exercise, you are not growing. You are not putting you under pressure. Push yourself to failure is his advice.

I decided to take the advice and observe myself. My obsession with numbers and tracking progress by numbers didn’t let me focus on my primary objective. I decided to work till I couldn’t lift more. I rested more between the sets. If I could lift a five kg dumbell at the end of 45 minutes gym session, I go back to train. Slowly I started looking forward for the failure. It didn’t come soon. It took its own sweet time but eventually I failed. I couldn’t do the simple folding of arms.

And that is when growth happened.

It was a profound lesson for me. I started thinking about other areas where I was afraid of failure. I could see that I stopped so many things as soon as I knew there is no win beyond the point. The point where I won, was literally my comfort zone. Also I learned to wait for the results. There was no growth or change in first year. But I sailed through the year without head ache, cold, fever or throat irritation. My health was better, I felt better. No transformation videos will explain such beautiful benefits to you.

This year, for the International Men’s day, lets take an oath to fail more in where we want to grow. Let us take care of our physical and mental health. Be open about our struggles and less boastful about our achievements. Lets be humble, calm, happy and healthy.

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