Ok, so earlier today I decided to take one for the team and make a coffee-run on my lunch break. Starbucks was packed out as per usual. With the only alternative being a pop-up Costa that was a good 15 minute walk away, I reluctantly pulled off my scarf and gloves, took my place in line and waited.
Rooting around in my pockets I soon realised that I’d left my iPhone and headphones at my desk. Brilliant. With no music to numb my eardrums, I had no choice but to eavesdrop on the nearest conversation. Hey, don’t act like you wouldn’t do the same. In this day and age, how else can anyone be expected to pass the time when they don’t have music, the internet or a book to hand?!
Judge me all you like but you know that I speak the truth. So now that we’re on the same page again, let’s get back to the coffee-shop! 😛
Immediately to my left, in front of a dormant fireplace, was a round wooden table around which a group of three guys were huddled, drinking what appeared to be lattes. I couldn’t quite tell if they were friends or work colleagues, all seemingly appeared to be in their mid-late twenties and wearing casual shirts and jeans (just to paint a picture for you).
They were discussing the brown-haired, bearded one’s recent date. He was saying that he wasn’t too sure if he was up for round two or not. He didn’t feel like he was ‘at his best’ since Christmas, his pot-belly needed to be deflated before he jumped back in to the dating game (his words not mine, I swear!). And that’s when the second guy, with blonde hair and rosy cheeks, chimed in saying that he’d take a pot-belly over his non-existent facial hair and his dad’s receding hair line, any day of the week!
I’m pretty sure that my mouth actually dropped.
Call me blonde, but I literally had no idea that guys ever conversed in this way, picking apart their imperfections in an overall serious, (impressively) self-aware, non-banterous manner! Being surrounded by women for the majority of my day-to-day life since birth, the thought had never crossed my mind that guys could be anywhere near as insecure as girls; these guys were even outdoing me and my friends!
Now I won’t lie, as I’m typing this I do feel slightly ridiculous because of course guys are insecure, that’s hardly the headline of the century. They’re not some resilient breed of man-shaped robots who feel no emotion (they’re a different sex, not a different species Sharan!) but nevertheless it was fascinating to overhear. And the conversation continued in this fashion for another ten minutes or so before I finally reached the barista and placed my order.
Shortly afterwards, I returned to the office juggling my four lattes and all of this newly acquired insight, bursting to share it with the first person I could find! So I handed him his drink and then let it rip to one of my male colleagues about what I’d overheard. No word of a lie, he looked at me like he’d just smelt a rotten egg. ‘Of course guys have tonnes of insecurities’, he said. ‘We just don’t broadcast them to the world like girls do!’ And then he went on to tell me about how over the years he’d had countless conversations like the one I’d just overheard (apparently only ever with his absolute closest friends) about their insecurities with regards to acne, height and hairiness! (Yeah, we have a unique work-colleague relationship if you couldn’t already tell haha).
As I happily accepted the role of student/grasshopper he bestowed even more of his wisdom upon me, now with regards to guys and compliments. He informed me that guys appreciate compliments as much or maybe even more than girls do. Now I’m definitely convinced that I’ve been living on some other planet for the last 23 years, because once again I was astounded! I repeat, in theory I know that guys love compliments, but I don’t think that I ever make a conscious effort to give them out just because I assume that most guys don’t need/want that validation, but they do!
I’ve always had the mindset that guys have it so much easier than girls. They don’t have the burdens of makeup and high heels etc, but I guess that also means that unlike us they have nothing to hide behind. They’re much more vulnerable if you think about it, so no wonder they’re riddled with insecurities! I guess everyone feels like they’re under the microscope these days, guys AND girls.
But while it’s become slightly more acceptable for women to have flaws in recent times (largely thanks to an increase in the wave of feminism) it’s still taboo for men to overtly acknowledge their insecurities. They’re forced to suppress them and mask them with an air of false indifference and contrived cockiness.
And then that got me thinking about music. Nowadays there are so many female empowering songs out there that tell women that they’re beautiful and should embrace their bodies and be comfortable in their own skin. But where are the male equivalents? What songs are there that tell a young guy in his twenties that he’s handsome and attractive regardless of whether or not he has a six-pack or bulging biceps? Personally, I can’t think of one and that’s pretty sad.
So lesson of the day: cut guys some slack and treat them with a bit more compassion because they deserve it. Officially in the process of thawing my Ice Queen crown. 😀