“The Material Mask”
The Mask of Masculinity by Lewis Howes
There’s a knock at the door.
When that happens it’s usually one of two people, the food delivery guy, or an Amazon package. Most of the time, it’s an Amazon package.
I’m a notorious orderer of online goodies. But the thing is, it’s only known by me, and my roommate.
Howe’s chapter from his book, Mask of Masculinity speaks about how men will wear the mask of materialism to give themselves a sense of status for themselves. I personally don’t own the nicest of things and never felt the need to. I do buy nice clothes and try to look “fresh”, aka, “cool” aka “I have some kind of money that makes me look this nice,” yet I never felt compelled to buy the most expensive things to show off some kind of status in spite of making a good amount of money.
I am still, however, very materialistic in my own ways.
“Most guys who feel that shame and anxiety attempt to compensate for it. I was no different. Because I felt so low, I would fantasize that someday I would be rich. My wealth would mean that I finally mattered. I could rest easy knowing that I could rest easy knowing that I could afford to live up to my obligations as a man, and not be a burden on my family or anyone else.“
Unless they’re lazy and utterly incompetent, I believe that most guys would feel the shame in knowing that they have to rely on someone else for their income or the ability to take care of themselves. This quote by Howes resignates with me on a day to day basis because it looks deep into my heart.
It comes down to the thoughts that one day when once I own the fancy cars, get the nice house, walk into a club without waiting in line, I can fully feel secure with who I am and not have to worry.
It’s a struggle I have when I drive by a nice house or see a Lamborghini fly past me. Or worse, when someone close to me talks about having these kinds of things or talks about the successes that others have in their own lives.
Ultimately, it brings with it a sense of guilt, shame, and insecurity in my life that leaves me in a state of restlessness and anxiety. It leaves me in a state where I feel the need to constantly work and work hard because I need to somehow provide not only for myself but for the people I love all around me. For my parents, my future spouse, brothers, and all of my family in Laos.
It’s exhausting to think about and not something that I necessary need to dwell on. How I approach my thinking about this is that in the end of your life, what will matter more is not what you provided for you and your family, but rather how much you put in to love them with your time and energy. What matters most is your relationship with them. Of course, when you do this, you also work hard for them to provide. It’s a balance of love and sacrifice so that you be the best you can be, for THEM.
“I like having nice things myself, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting them or having them. But they are not the things that leave me fulfilled inside at the end of the day, and they don’t solve all my problems once I have them.“
I mentioned earlier that Amazon packages would come to my door left and right. I have a bad habit of purchasing things to get that next endorphine rush. I can’t seem to help but buy things that I feel would “help” make me feel a little better about myself.
What’s nice is that I have the money to purchase all of it. The camera, camera equipment, microphone, books, office supplies, etc. Even though no one sees it, I feel good about being able to have it and to use it, although, just for the day. Just like how I used to want and beg for toys when I was a child from my parents only to get tired of it after three days, likewise, I’d do the same with the adult “toys” in my life.
Except for this time, it’s usually much more expensive and I can buy whenever I want.
“Live in gratitude. Someone who is grateful for what he has, no matter how little it is, will be more open to living a joyful life.“
This is how I combat the feelings of not having enough for myself whether it be materials or status.
I’ve been practicing gratitude for a while now, ever since I began those thoughts of desiring the money, cars, and fancy things, and the urges aren’t as bad as they used to be. My contentment of life has been much more level, and seeing all the things that I don’t have is much easier to handle since I’m better able to focus on the things that I DO HAVE.
I have more here than many people in other countries and I think often times everyone tends to forget that reality.
“We are all gifts. When you see someone filled with love and joy, it is contagious. It doesn’t matter how much money they have; what matters is how they show up in the world.“
This quote from Howe is what speaks the most truth to all of us in this life. Money does matter in life, but how you use it and how much value you bring to the world with it matters more than anything else. What you do with yourself and the legacy you leave behind will matter for the next one hundred years rather than the material possessions that you build for yourself in your life.
I still want the money, cars, and nice houses. To be honest I really want a yacht and a Lamborgini. I mean really, who doesn’t right?
But, if I don’t get it, it’s not going to destroy me. Because when it comes down to it, what I REALLY want, is the love from my lady, parents, brothers, and being able to make an impact on so many insecure introverts out there who share the same struggles of self-worth as I do.
The secret to a great life, be grateful!