Today I want to write about the one thing I think my Singaporean and Finnish guy friends need to hear. And that is–
“You are fine just the way you are.”
Let me provide the context as to why I’m saying this.
I have this really good looking, kind and smart Finnish guy friend. Let’s call him J. J is immensely talented, he bakes super well and is super cute and kind.
However, J doesn’t see himself this way. For some reason, he doesn’t really feel very confident of himself, and my (German) girlfriend and I always wondered why. For example, during informal hang-outs, my girlfriend and I would always comment that J is a “good catch” and any girl who dates/marries J would be super blessed.
Because he will bake for the girl!! ❤ And he bakes yummy stuffs!!
Yet J seems to always feel that he is not good enough. And it was only through J that I realized that there is such a phenomenon whereby there might really be a stark difference between how you view yourself, and how others view you.
Therefore, because I’d met J, I’d become sensitive to this subtle feeling of anxiety and inferiority complex that some Finnish guys have. It manifests itself in the form of:
- Always saying, “I’m sorry, my English is not good enough.”
- Feeling very, very anxious before a presentation;
- Feeling the need to NOT be like stereotypical Swedish boys– NOT metrosexual, NOT too charming, NOT too modern, NOT talk too much nonsense (if at all), NOT fake;
- Feeling that in general he is lousy and not attractive.
Honestly, if you put a stereotypical Finnish boy next to a stereotypical Swedish boy, the difference is stark. The latter is “shiny”, confident, talks a lot and smiles all the time, whereas the Finnish boy is relatively more anxious, not so confident, low-profile and frown-y.
This led me to question where the anxiety and/or inferiority complex comes from. Because I think Singaporean guys have it too!
For Singaporean guys, they sort of think that they are not good enough compared to white boys. It might be a subconscious colonial thing–after all, Singapore was previously a British colony. White boys are perceived as taller, of bigger built, stronger, more aggressive/ assertive, with better English, and in general more masculine. In addition, there is also a perception that white guys go to Singapore to “steal” Singaporean women and jobs from the natives.
All these are not necessarily true, by the way.
And honestly, why do Singaporean and Finnish guys even feel that they are unattractive? Our guys are quite highly-educated, well-off, good looking, and fluent in at least two languages. Also, at least in my social circle, guys are well-traveled, cosmopolitan, and really, really kind. A good number of them also work out a lot.
So, exactly who are our guys comparing themselves with?
It is here that I need to suggest, perhaps, that it is time to recognize that there is such a thing as the perceived colonial superiority mentality (That Singaporean men are often subjected to), and the perceived Swedish-superiority complex (That Finnish men are often subjected to). All these are subconscious and very, very subtle.
This leads to an unintended mental framing of Singaporean men Vs White men, and Finnish men Vs Swedish men. Which I think is not a fruitful framing. Instead of this silly framing, I think Singaporean and Finnish men should learn to see and appreciate themselves just as they are.
- So instead of “I’m not wearing this hat because I don’t want to stand out. Only Swedish guys stand out!”
…The thinking can be re-framed to, “I shall wear this hat because I feel like it.”
- And instead of “This stupid white guy is terrible, how can he snatch our jobs and date our Singaporean girls?”
…The thinking can be re-framed to, “How can I make myself more appealing to employers and interesting to Singaporean girls?”
You get my drift.
I really do think this is the direct effect of nationalistic sentiments on guys. Of course the effect is on girls too, but guys have it worse since they are expected to be protectors-of-the-nation.
As young nations (<100 years for both) with previous war histories, the societal expectations on guys are definitely higher, because the national culture isn’t fixed yet. But perhaps it’s time to step out of our comfort zone and learn to see our strengths, just as we are. Not as what we are not.
So yes, I’d like to tell my Singaporean and Finnish guy friends, that you’re perfectly OK just the way you are. We’d all keep growing, keep becoming better and keep stepping out of our comfort zones. 🙂
There is no need to be so harsh on yourself. Learn to look into the mirror and see more of YOUR value.