A more 'secure' man would think nothing of 'preparing' for a trip in which reunions with many old friends will ensue. No thoughts at all would dwell on fitness, hair color or how impressive the job description sounds. He would confidently invade the old stomping grounds, aware that maturity trumps expectations and that feeble attempts to "wow!" the social circle of yesteryear fall pathetically short. He'd dismiss with a casual wave any notions of "gearing up" for meeting ancient crushes whose attraction he once found validating, or spending extra 'mirror time' examining the thinning mane (*sigh*). With suave chuckles, he'd ignore any primal instincts to improve appearance, 'inflate' the career description or put his "best face forward."
Well, I am not that man.
I am not immune to fears that re-acquaintances, after replaying "the good ole' days" in their mind, will find the present specimen comparatively underwhelming; Or that the reunion will include such innocent phrases as, "You sure got gray," or "It's good that you're staying active at your age." I don't easily ignore the possibility of having someone look me up and down, then declare sheepishly, "the years have been kind." Nor it is lost on me that some might stumble through the compliment, "I heard you're still a Bible teacher... that's nice." Being a "secure man" is a rather fluid state that sets upon a man at some times, yet can elude him at others. Were I completely above such tendencies, I'd be performing no more push-ups this week than I was prior to planning "Nostalgia Tour 2010."
What can inoculate a middle-aged male from the need for affirmation from historic sources?... Present day sources.
There can be little doubt that I would be far more at risk of groping for approval from old buddies and flames were I not so reinforced (daily) by present friends and family. The wealth of affirming support and encouragement I receive in the present day borders on obscene. As a result, the 'insecure man' is made a little more 'secure' at any given moment due to the relational network. Spousal compliments are without guile, and kids are under no obligation to 'sugarcoat' their respect. Peers in present church and work circles do not convey disappointment or pity. Indeed, whether such affirmation is deserved or not (likely not), it is genuine enough to satiate the appetite for 'borrowed confidence' from exterior sources.
Nevertheless, there's nothing like a pending reunion with old friends to motivate one toward healthier habits. And as for how my career sounds when describing it to these 'sometime' peers? The choices are twofold:
1. Be proud to describe (accurately) the career you have.
2. Keep striving for the career you'd be proud to describe.
A hybrid of these two should work out fine. Besides... my teenage daughter thinks I'm cool anyway.