I Am X-Years-Old
You don’t always act like a man. And you should probably be ashamed.
Sometimes you get dangerously angry. Or pitiably sad. Or boyishly excited. Maybe you even dip into depression or jump to mania. Emotions are fine, useful even, an essential part of being human; Judeo-Christian philosophers claim that even God is emotional. Cool. But sometimes emotions make you do stupid things.
When you do stupid things, it’s because you choose to do them. If emotions play a part of that, okay, fine, but you have a mind, because you’re a man. But are you a man?
Test Your Emotional Manhood
One of the boys at the Broom Factory was discussing a formulation he found online awhile back, and when the superintendent (i.e. Skipper Armstrong) heard him talking about it, he told him to shut up and get back to work and promptly stole the idea to put here on the blog. Anyway, here’s the formula:
When I feel ________, I am X years old.
So when you feel sad, do you pout like a preschooler? Do you philosophize like a 70-year-old? What?
The test isn’t designed to fix you. It’s not even designed to make you consider your virtues or vices. Basically, it’s a slap in the face to say “Hey, act like a man.”
The Shame Game
It works like this: if you see you’re being childish, you feel shame.
“But that’s wrong!” you say. “I need a healthy dose of self-esteem to function.”
Phooey. You need to do what is best for others, and that requires recognition of reality. When you serve others, you’ll feel good about your actions and see yourself in your proper place. If you’re not in your proper place—maybe because your fear makes you act like a third grader—then you’ll be ashamed. That’s called legitimate guilt, not to be confused with mere psychological guilt.
And hey, if you’re in the wrong, there’s an app for that: repentance. Try throwing repentance in the formulation:
When I feel penitent for my wrongs, I am at the age of maturity.
Caveat: this formulation does not originate with any of the skippers in the Broom Factory. If you know the source, please let us know in the comments so we can give credit where it is due.