Disclaimer: This may be my whiniest post yet, but I had a lot to get off my chest. And, yes, it is quite possible that I wrote this while I was splitting.
I want to start off by making a clear distinction. I did not used to believe in such a huge divide between ‘boys’ and ‘men’. Some of the most meaningful relationships I’ve had have been with men; romantically, professionally and socially. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the men in my life. This post is specifically about boys. In my adulthood I have become brutally aware that becoming a man isn’t something that happens with age, it’s so much more complex than that.
In our society I don’t think there are many people who haven’t been negatively impacted by White Boy Syndrome (WBS) but few know what it is. WBS is, in my opinion, both the most prevalent and undiagnosed behavioural disorder of the past century.
I first became conscious of White Boy Syndrome and the negative impacts that it has upon borderlines when I began to tackle my mental health issues in a more direct manner.
Borderlines are prone to jump to negative conclusions and feel devalued, often taking things very personally. I’ve always been pretty terrified of speaking up when I’m feeling crappy as I fear the backlash and abandonment that may follow. Upon discussing some of my negative social experiences with my psychologist she has helped me work through some of my issues with communication. She urged me to objectively approach discomfort and try to speak to the people in my life when I am upset by the behaviour of others.
Her logic here was that after a respectful conversation with anyone who cared about me misunderstandings would be cleared up and my anxiety would be eased somewhat. Simple enough, yeah? Not only has this approach helped my partner and I tremendously, it has also given me the confidence to speak to my family about my mental health situation. Unfortunately, before trying to utilise objective communication with my friends, neither my psychologist or I realised that a large fraction of my friends at the time were afflicted with WBS.
So what exactly WBS? Here is everything you need to know to begin your understanding of this complex condition. It comes from The Totally Non-Fictional Behavioural Research Center, not some angsty girl in her mid-twenties who had to deal with far too many testosterone fueled tantrums in her time.
As a teacher of young adults I have had incredibly respectful and insightful conversations about mental health, gender and culture with 17 year old men. I have also been completely belittled and treated as unreasonable when questioning friends on harmful behaviour, even though these questions are usually accompanied by a gentle “I’m sure this wasn’t your intention”. While I’d like to pretend I first heard this proverb from a more sophisticated source than Kingsman, a ridiculous movie where Collin Firth looks damn fine in a suit, “Manners Maketh Man”. You do not automatically graduate from being a boy when you reach a certain age. It takes compassion, a willingness to listen to those around you, the courage to see through difficult situations and yes, some fucking manners.