(#23 in a series of people who changed the course of my life)
I know I wrote about allies already but there’s one I want to especially call out.
At a time in my life when I was ambivalent about my career and trying to find my direction in life, Sheldon Voss was as loyal a friend—and ally—as I’ve ever known.
A generation apart in age, Sheldon and I developed a camaraderie at work that would extend to the gym and lifting (when I would sortof hate him) and many conversation about hopes and dreams we each had for our lives.
I’m not sure how the Universe works, exactly, but she sent another amazing person at the right time of my life. Since those early days of our friendship, not only did Sheldon coach me toward some very real gains in the gym, he has continued to push me, encourage me, and make me believe I can do ANYthing with respect to what I feel compelled to do.
And as a man who shows kindness to all people regardless of who they are (well, except bigots) and unafraid of others not like him, Sheldon models a very powerful model of what masculinity has the potential to look like.
You see, masculinity is not about how much weight we can push in the gym or how we beat our chests; neither is it about objectifying women or accumulating possessions to show manliness. And, despite what society has duped us into believing, it is not defined by machismo and false pride.
Masculinity is, as I have observed in Sheldon, standing up for others. Showing kindness. Radiating positivity to those around you. Living beyond labels and purposefully exploring the fullness of one’s potential—unabashedly and unashamed.
And more than anything, masculinity is admitting mistakes, owning them, and becoming a better person. For example, Sheldon will tell you—with regret in his voice—that at one time in his life he did not only refuse to accept the equal rights of gay people but he had been somewhat of a bully.
Sheldon has been on a journey and that journey has made him the ally and incredible example of authentic masculinity that he is today.
And by his example, I have become a better man and a better steward of my own expression of masculinity. I believe that others who have the good fortune of being around Sheldon benefit just the same.
We need more people like Sheldon in the world today.
(And Happy Birthday!)
23. authentic masculinity