The journey from boy to man

It can happen on just one day.

“What makes a man?” is a question I broached in the short book Rafa Nadal Makes Me Want to Be a Better Man, published this summer.

There are a number of qualities that a man embodies: humility, honour, service and strength (of character at least as much as of body).

There are ages of consent or birthdays that bring voting rights or a date when we can legally drink alcohol.

But there is no firm age when a boy becomes a man.

There are males in their 40s or 50s or 60s who still display all the hallmarks of boys.

And there are 16-year-olds out there who are already men in every way.

What is it that marks the boundary behind boyhood and manhood?

I don’t know if that’s possible to answer in any convincing way. It feels like it’s different for everyone.

But I do that the world needs men now, of all ages.

Movements like #MeToo in recent years, and much broader and beyond that, the growth of feminism over several decades, reveal something about the self-centred, ego-driven, ego-enriching and pleasure-seeking qualities of those who had been masquerading as men.

Attempts to embody the qualities of a man is laden with challenges and pitfalls and temptations, but there is honour in the attempt, and sufficient attempt can lead us to success.

As individuals, men — adult males — need to fully embody our masculine qualities.

The groups of which we are a part — family groups, local communities, wider societies and the world — need us to fully embody our masculine qualities too.

The ascent from boy to man can happen in just one day, and when it does, there’s no going back.