Why Are Most Of Your Friends Girls?
A question I was persistently asked, particularly in my teens, was why the majority of my friends were female. A friend of mine once said that he could never understand how that worked, and how I hadn’t dated any of them. I’ll be targeting the former part of their query in this post.
The question instigated an inner dialogue with my younger self and I wondered if there was a pattern that I could trace; something that could give me a lead to the million dollar question in my teenage life, a question I remember having been repeatedly asked from the ages of nine to nineteen; why are most of your friends girls?
Though I am uncertain of how many of you will resonate with my words in this post, I am convicted to open up my heart, representing those sailing/ who have sailed similar waters to me, and to start a discussion with those interested.
Let me start by asking you;
Are most of your friends the same sex as you or the opposite sex?
Mine, for the majority of my life, have predominantly been of the opposite sex. I think it’ll be helpful to give you a background into why I think that has been the case; hopefully some of you will share similar experiences and relate to my story.
Throughout primary school I was mostly friends with other boys out of circumstance, not choice; I have no sisters and wasn’t surrounded by any young female relatives. I attended an all boys primary school and living in Cairo at the time, had very little exposure to girls at church. I do have distinct memories however, of eight year old me purposely avoiding to cross paths with specific boys due to a lack of relatibility. I vividly remember a sleepover with a church friend that left me feeling very ‘different’ to say the least; it was our tradition to play the Lion King PC game, but that evening my friend deemed it a “girls’ game” and we played, what was to me, a boring generic car-racing game instead. Little did I know that this was a glimpse into what I was going to encounter for the next ten or so years of my life.
Migrating to the UK aged 9 highlighted my disinterest in the majority of toys/ activities targeting my age/ sex demographic from the get-go; I could not care less about sports or cars and I certainly preferred drawing in my sketchbook or playing Pokemon Sapphire on my GameBoy Advance SP, than GTA with my brother on ‘our’ PS2. Befriending other males throughout secondary school became an intricate process of elimination; I deeply cherished the few that made me feel understood.
Though my social skills flourished in my teens, I began to embrace my introversion more and more – needing an intimate environment to feel safe. Naturally preferring and seeking long lasting one-on-one friendships, the false ‘revelation’ that I would not receive the intimacy I desired out of a friendship with another guy, was one I quickly believed. Without overly generalizing, I believe that young men struggle with emotional expression due to the hyper-masculine social construct they are born into from the get-go. Large male-dominated friendship groups are preferred over singular brotherhoods at that age as they provide a safety net from raw emotional expression, by masking a boy’s brokenness with quality banter and social hierarchy. In my case, the few male friendships I did harbor, disintegrated as quickly as they were formed.
Insecurity in Masculinity:
Having little in common with the males around me while growing up began to plant a seed of thought that I am not “man enough” for, what I perceived were, masculine tasks/ interests. The words “you’re just different from the other boys” that I had heard oh so often, began to seep into my skin and I had begun to base my entire identity on who I was not, rather than who I was.
Befriending females thus became very simple; since I was not like the other guys, and neither were they (being females themselves), we met on common grounds. I grew tired of the constant feeling of being “less manly” than the company surrounding me. I grew tired of proving my masculinity by faking my interest in subjects and banter that did not stimulate me. I grew tired of it all.
“The more one experiences pressures to “show oneself” and demonstrate masculine competency, the greater the hypervulnerability. The reason is that “showing off” one’s manhood is an emotionally immature process. This manhood is insecure and is based on what one does rather than who one is. Insecure masculinity comprises a set of behaviours driven by fear to prove to the world that one’s manhood isn’t weak, yet these same behaviours can inadvertently increase the feelings of fear they are intended to eradicate.”
– Niobe Way, Adolescent Boys – Exploring Diverse Cultures of Boyhood
In an oestragen concentrated environment, testosterone is very easy to spot.
And that felt good.
It fed my ego when I was asked questions to understand the perspective of a guy by my female friends. I no longer sought masculine validation from other guys as it was affirmed by the multitude of girls around me. This insecurity in my masculinity grew deeper, cocooning me in a dangerous comfort zone around females, that neither challenged me as a man nor helped me to feel represented.
Though healing low self-esteem/ self-confidence, particularly targeting fragile masculinity as in my case, is a life-long journey, The Lord eases it by His grace.
“…the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” Luke 1:78(b)-79
Though His luminosity exposes our innermost insecurities, instead of condemning us as the world does, The Lord uses His light to illuminate the road of healing for us to walk through, in order to achieve perfect peace with who we are. By exposing our insecurities to our Creator, we learn to humble ourselves in His presence and confess that though we do not posses the power to rid ourselves of our demons, He, the Alpha and Omega, surely does.
“The sick one who is acquainted with his sickness is easily to be cured; and he who confesses that he is in pain is near to health. Many are the pains of the hard heart; and when the sick one resists the physician, his torments will be augmented.”
– St. Isaac the Syrian
Truth rooted in The Word affirms who I am in Christ, rather than who I am not in the world. I begin to comprehend the intensity of The Father’s love for me; how He created my inmost being and knit me together in my mother’s womb (Ps 139:13). Trivial validations for masculinity or femininity from others in our worlds pale in comparison to a God-rooted self-confidence in our identities in Christ.
Embracing my identity in Christ and consequently my masculinity, however it manifests itself in my world, liberates me from trying to box what manhood means according to other people, in their worlds.
Embracing The Spectrum:
The healing process is radical. It not only frees you of your chains, but opens your eyes to your fellow man’s needs so that you are moved to minister to those you once deemed unworthy.
I spent my adolescent years wrongfully believing that the boys who had made me feel isolated growing up, were unworthy; of my friendship, my time, or even my concern. “They had had it easy”. They fit “the norm”, so any struggle they encountered I deemed insignificant compared to mine.
Once healing began, The Holy Spirit gave me a crash course on statistics to open my eyes as to how the Body of Christ functions. If you’re not familiar with the term ‘normal distribution’, it is a function that represents the distribution of many random variables. It’s normally represented in a ‘bell curve’, as shown in the diagram below;
I won’t bore you with the stats talk, trust me – I hated maths at school, but this perfectly illustrates the point that I want to make. (If you’re a maths genius, please bare with me as I butcher this concept). In this diagram, you can see that most variables fall in the centre at 34.1%, and as you move to either sides of the curve, the percentage decreases. The data is representing the distribution of the same variables; the majority is at the centre, but there are still plenty that don’t fall in the dark blue region.
Once I realised that though I may not fall in the “34.1%”, with the majority of men, in Christ I am still represented in the bell curve of masculinity, such a heavy weight was lifted. I belonged. I’m here. I’m here. I remember that season of discovery vividly – how the Holy Spirit used it to re-instill so much lost confidence in my soul, even convicting and burdening me for my fellow brothers, whether in the 34.1% or in the 0.1% bracket, now that I had realised that we are one Body. “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts…” Romans 12:4-6(a).We the Church, embrace the undeniable spectrum of personalities existing within humanity as it is created in God’s image and likeness, for “Christ is all, and is in all.” Colossians 3:11(b). In the Lord, the gentle man and the resilient woman, the expressive male and the reserved female, the stay-at-home father and the working mother alike, hold a significant role in the Body of Christ. A role that only the 0.1% on the bell curve can fulfill; a calling though not understood by the world, is fully known and anointed by The Father.
Every member of the Body becomes a spirit reflecting a trait of his/ her Creator in your eyes, when you choose to embrace the normal distribution that exists within your own sex and the opposite sex. This liberating truth opened the door to the brotherhood I had longed for all along; pure, unfiltered, edifying, long-lasting friendships with other men. Brotherhood that challenges me when I am falling short, comforts me when I am miserable, corrects me when I am backsliding, and prays for me when I am broken. By the grace of God, I now have brothers whose souls are knit to mine, and though we may fall at different points on the spectrum, “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” Proverbs 17:17.
“I want you to know that the love that is between me and you is no bodily love, but a spiritual love. For bodily friendship has no firmness or stability, being moved by strange winds.”
– St. Anthony
If you have walked a similar road to me, I pray for your healing. I pray that your rooted identity in the Lord would nourish your self-confidence; that the chains of self-doubt and low self esteem would break free today. I pray that you would accept the radical truth that you are called to serve and minister to those very same people that make you feel unqualified. “The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” Luke 8:38-39.
If you fall in the 34.1%, I pray for your healing also. For we are one Body, and if one brother or sister is hurting, then you are hurting also. I pray that the Lord would use you to embrace His children at all ends of the beautiful spectrum that humanity has been created into. I pray that you are a voice for those that have yet to discover theirs.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21