It came to me today, that I, like many Nice Guys I know, have developed exoskeletons over the years.
What do I mean by that?
Well, I was thinking about the habits, skills and strategies I have picked up along the way (since, perhaps the beginning of high school). I was a pretty sensitive kid, a smart one, and a little chubby. Ah, what a great way to go through junior high!
Anyways, I realized that I learned some things from then on in. I learned how to dress. I learned how to walk with purpose. I learned how to fake it. I learned how to be social. I learned how to be funny. I learned how to read people's emotions, and what they needed.
All of these acted as a shield, as a protectant. They were, in short, an exoskeleton. They protected me and kept me safe inside.
The downside was that the strengthening inside that shell was slow, since it wasn't really needed to get by in life. Inside that shell, I remained fairly young and sensitive. Also, it interfered with my *real* contact with other people. They were interacting with the image of me, not often the *real* me. Hell, I didn't let anybody get close to that.
It's been the work of my adulthood (actually, since starting my journey to this career when I was 32) to start to develop the insides and actually let it out to connect and interact. Now, at 45, I feel much freer - more real and sincere and authentic. Being the dad of a toddler has helped too, as my little guy is nothing if not true to himself, and I find dad's are allowed to be soft and silly in a way younger men really aren't in this culture.
OK, that's all from here today. I wish you all the best - from the real me to the real you.
Counseling for Nice Guys to be More Authentic