Or rather not being a man. Though I do not look my age, on occasion someone (usually a child) will call me a “man.” Mostly it is something like, “Look at what he has!” “Who?” “That man over there.” And usually I turn to see this man myself, until I realize the child was referring to me. Strangely, the older I have gotten, the more I feel disconnected from the term. I do not see myself as a man, beyond the technical sense.
I think it is in part because I have no desire to be an adult or to be connected to anything associated with adulthood. My behavior is not that of an adult’s. While I can be quite serious and focused, my outlook on life and the world has not changed much since I was younger. Often I get into arguments with adults about their rigidness, particularly when it comes to political views or religious issues. At times I can quite annoy people with perpetual “whys,” though I do attempt to mask them as other questions so that it will be less obvious. None of this is conscious or intentional, though I would suspect that since I have no desire to be an adult that greatly affects how I interact with them.
Oddly enough, I have in the past been confused as much older than I am. This has occurred in instances of written communications–online, emails or papers I have handed in. A friend of mines once told me I switched back and forth, at times seeming much older and at times seeming younger. Perhaps that is the case, though I personally do not see it.
The other part of it is that, for me, a man is someone almost mythical. Not necessarily that he is non-existent, as I have known and know several men. What I mean is that being a man seems more a title than a state of existence. It is something one earns rather than something one is called at a whim. When people call me a “man” I wonder why they do so? What have I done to deserve that title?
For me, it is not unlike Dante’s experience when he was in Limbo. One does not simply walk up and join in on the conversation of the great poets.
I suppose that I really have no desire to be a man at all. I have no desire to be a child either, because it was exceedingly frustrating having adults ignore my opinions just because of my age. While that still occurs (quite often, actually), I do not wish to be locked down into adult thinking, whatever it is that it may be. That, I think, shows I am not ready or really capable of being a man.