I say this not to elicit sympathy, but to merely state a fact: My cat died and I am sad. Which, if you have ever loved an animal, is a perfectly appropriate response. Yet I'm not telling the entire story. I am very sad. I am breathlessly, obsessively, perhaps ridiculously sad over the death of my cat, Bongo.
Grief is an inevitable part of every human life, regardless of gender. It is also one of the great isolating forces in the lives of men. Male grief is all too often invisible, misunderstood, and unwanted, which leaves many men in the difficult position of having to deal with their grief on their own, if they deal with it at all.
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When it comes to the fringes, neither side is really fighting about what they say they are -- they're projecting and acting out much deeper hurts. The 150 or so attendees of the convention I went to weren't all monsters by any stretch of the imagination. But I daresay most of them weren't very happy people either.
While these years may feel surprisingly more pressurized than your 20s, they will unexpectedly also bring the most personal growth in your life. You're no longer allowed to kick back in flip-flops on the bench -- you're in the big leagues, in cleats with a giant 3-0 on your back. This is where you find out who you are and who you really want on your team.