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Forge
A publication from Medium on personal development.

Men

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The New Self-Help

Every day, I was rewarded for behavior that I was previously punished for

Book jacket for Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man by Thomas Page McBee
Book jacket for Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man by Thomas Page McBee

This story is part of The New Self-Help: 21 Books for a Better You in the 21st Century.

When I first began injecting testosterone, I clocked the changes primarily in aesthetic terms: the T-shirt that now fit me, the graceful curl of biceps, the glorious sprinkle of a beard. I loved being a man; I loved having a body.

Those first few years of testosterone injections coincided with a period of anxious headlines about men in economic turmoil. Post-recession, surges in suicides, drug addiction, and even beards were all blamed on a broader insecurity about the massive loss of jobs…


It’s being really bad at handling rejection

Photo: Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

Like a lot of men, I have a long track record of sucking at rejection. Whenever someone said no to me, it was always THEIR fault that they didn’t see the best in me. I was great. They were foolish.

Back in the late ’90s, I spent a summer as a table runner at a restaurant in Western Connecticut to make beer money for college. I was, charitably speaking, an underwhelming employee. I took a lot of bathroom breaks to avoid the dish pile. I was too loud in the kitchen. I wore the same black pants and white shirt…


Men have to dig deep to uncover the sources of our hidden misogyny

Illustration: Filip Fröhlich

I spent most of my twenties in New York chasing women. With my shy, sensitive demeanor, they thought I was safe: a “nice guy.” “Boyfriend material.” But I see now that I was less interested in a relationship than the validation of a woman’s desire. Once I had it, I lost interest. I’d run off looking for the next person to give me that rush of being wanted and needed, then the next. Each time, I became deeply depressed.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had become a straight white male cliché. On Reddit, for example, there’s…


Jim Carrey called his quarantine beard a ‘meaningless transformation,’ but psychologically it’s not meaningless at all

Photo: Norbert Kamil Kowaczek/EyeEm/Getty Images

Jim Carrey is doing it. Stephen Colbert had something going on in that last episode before The Late Show went on hiatus. My own husband, who couldn’t grow a full beard with Rogaine and Jason Mamoa’s mandible, is currently sporting a kind of adorable patchwork-type thing. A lot of men are responding to the coronavirus crisis by swapping their ordinarily clean-shaven visages for scraggly quarantine beards.

But why?

Is it because extreme times call for extreme grooming decisions? (We’ve all seen Mad Max.)

Is it because the beard is a calendar, measuring time like tick marks on the wall of…


Stay inside, pick an interest, become a Guy

Illustration: Laurie Rollitt

The men are at it again.

This time, they’re crowding into Nashville bars and throwing Frisbees in the middle of Prospect Park and showing the world that a little pandemic ain’t gonna stop them from havin’ a good-ass time. They’re logging on to tell people who are self-isolating that they’re ignorant, weak, and allergic to fun. Some of these men are gonna die shortly, and probably take your grandma along with them. But for now, they’re flipping that ‘rona the bird and showing it who’s boss.

This is extremely on-brand for my people. If the coronavirus had ravaged the globe…


Not even Don Draper likes being Don Draper

Photo: Lionsgate Publicity

I have a male friend who ticks off all the boxes of a prototypical workplace leader. Every day, he plays the part of Don Draper — the brooding 1960s ad man in the TV series Mad Men — by putting on a suit and conforming to people’s notions of what it means to be the brave male boss: working long hours, taking risks, and not showing emotion or displaying any weaknesses. He also works hard to downplay his identity as a father by not mentioning his children or taking time off to care for them.

In other words, he is…


The New New

Yes, men are helping out around the house more—but women are still stuck with most of the planning

Photo: Natalia Solovii/Getty

My Mother’s Day was defined by a blue Rubbermaid storage tub sitting ominously in the middle of my closet. It had been there for days. My husband had brought it down because it contained the gift bags and tissue paper necessary to wrap his mother’s gift and mine.

The gift he needed to wrap for me? A necklace I hadn’t asked for and didn’t want. For Mother’s Day, I had requested just one thing: a housecleaning service. The gift, for me, was not so much the cleaning itself but the fact that, for once, I would not be in charge…


The therapeutic solution, I realized, wasn’t something I’d learned in my training

Photo: Anthony Gotter/EyeEm/Getty Images

Therapists aren’t supposed to say this, but when my old client Ryan reached out after taking a long break from therapy, I wasn’t excited to hear from him. In fact, just thinking about our work together made my stomach and jaw clench.

The thing was, I liked Ryan. He was the product of a mother who struggled with mental illness and an absent father, yet he had overcome years of neglect to miraculously raise himself. His story was sometimes painful, but being with pain is the nature of my profession.

What made me uneasy was how absent the felt sense…

Forge

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