Note: a few months ago I took the red pill. Something worth looking into for my fellow male readers. I've certainly found good reason to agree favorably with many parts of it.
I pride myself on being manly. True story.
Half the reason I'm a merchant mariner was because I was seeking masculinity in my life as an adolescent and young adult. Back then, I felt it was absent. Hell, it WAS absent. I was a large nerd from a long and distinguished line of unnerdy men.
I have two older brothers. One joined the navy, following my dad's footsteps, disappearing when I was a child and coming back home and starting his own family in short order some years later.
Middle brother was the manly man. Built like a tank on legs, a construction worker and carpenter, admired by peers for his well-paying job, creative skills and inherent ability to 'attract more ass than a public toilet' as one of his friends told me. My brother thought nothing of working a 10-hour day in Boston's Big Dig project, then coming home to roof my mother's house and refinish the interior room-by-room by himself. I wasn't competent enough to help, and had no interest in such things, being shy and obsessed with school and, at the time, playing heavy-metal music. Lobstering wasn't a full-time obsession just yet, as I didn't have the ability or skill to truly do a man's job as a deckhand on a commercial boat. That came later.
In college, I started really fishing, and in the summer up in Maine, working at a remote biological field station mostly consisted of stumbling my way along in maintenance projects in between learning how to be a scientist. I learned the ancient and arcane art of chainsawing, handling power tools and the use of cutting implements in between jobs being a marine biology gunga din. Lobstering began to evolve from something I did as an exercise to feel more masculine to something I did because I liked it and had an affinity for despite the physically challenging environment. My brother went from being a hero figure to my brother. It wasn't until I took time off from college to do my first independent research that I found that I had arrived into manhood. I was working on a salmon farm in Scotland, and realized that I had a mix of skills that worked very well on a farm, which, as everyone knows, requires that one be a jack-of-all-trades in order to be employed within. And I did fine, and, in fact, outworked my coworkers- not in terms of speed, but I worked harder for longer and with less fuss, I guess. Anyhow, that job paid for my beer for a long, long time in a place with a lot of beer and a lot of beer drinking.
I'm still not where I want to be, masculinity-wise. I can't put in a replacement window single-handed, frame a house or rebuild my truck's transmission. I still have no interest in watching professional sports, with the exception of mixed martial arts. I need to work on my skills, but on the attitude? I'm OK there. I married a woman who actually likes traditional roles for their efficiency. She calls me a caveman at times, knowing full well that I take an obvious pleasure at it. My more cerebral interests don't always fit the mold, of course, and for that reason I don't think I've crossed over from being masculine to being macho, which I define as having an unbalanced sense of gender roles and critical thinking skills.
Friends and acquaintances from college certainly didn't like my transition from quiet science nerd to a more nuanced masculinity in my day-to-day living. The feminists, especially, being mostly of the third-wave variety, foamed at the mouth, and, eventually, gave me up for a lost cause, I suspect. I'm OK with that, though it's worth noting that with rare exception, the heterosexual feminist friends who were peers from my college days all ignored me sexually until I had started showing more masculine traits, at which point, I began to pull Indications Of Interest- fumbling outright passes, for the most part, putting the lie to the idea that educated women most desire a beta male version of themselves. Point of fact: the most aggressively (and artlessly)I've ever been pursued was by a radical feminist not of the third-wave variety (a point in her favor, but overshadowed by her explosive temper), which was amusing but ultimately called off due to my deep fear of her making a wind chime out of my genitals if she got mad at me.
Bear in mind, too, that this is something that I've been unable to articulate, but not for the lack of trying, for a long time. I am grateful for the characters of the Manosphere, the online community that led me to think about the things I think about when I'm thinking about things. Outliers, haters and fruit loops aside, there are some remarkable men out there who are worried about the dearth of masculinity in today's men.
Moving forward, I hope to identify and counteract the prevailing culture's impact on my thinking where I find that such things have impaired my ability to make critical judgements based on logic and reason. I hope to instill a sense of pride and masculinity in my boy, to counteract the ridiculous stereotypical programming he receives in his all female-staffed gradeschool, and allow him to develop himself as a person capable of taking pride in himself rather than being ashamed of his natural talents and abilities because he fails to meet the expectations of his largely-unmarried and childless female teachers. I fear for my boy, in truth. He's got some talented and dedicated teachers, most of whom wouldn't know a confirmation bias if it ran up their legs and bit 'em where the good lord split 'em.