It ticks me off when self-help recovery experts use the example of a bubble bath as some kind of reward or special treat. What’s more, most of the time this message is directed exclusively to women.

My bubble bath is an essential part of a full day. It is not a luxury or a reward. I do not need to earn it. Although I’m married to a woman who takes brief, Spartan showers and humorously tries to shame me out of my chosen path to cleanliness, I will not be intimidated by authors, experts or my spouse. I am a man who likes to soak.

It makes me think of my early days on the gridiron. Early on in grade school I decided to be a quarterback, not for fame and glory, but because the quarterback was hit less often than other players on the football field. It amazed me that most boys acted as if they enjoyed getting slammed, or slamming others, to the ground.

Not me. If I noticed an oncoming lineman ready to flatten me as I faded back to pass, I’d rifle the ball at the back of a wide receiver who had yet to think about turning around to catch my pass. I perfected a special way of limply holding my arms up as if I were deeply troubled by the receiver’s lack of effort. My football career was cut short due to my tenderness.

Okay, as long as I’m embracing self-disclosure, I enjoy watching romantic comedies, too. I laughed out loud when Harry met Sally. I also write poetry on occasion. It certainly isn’t awe-inspiring stuff but I love pairing two original lines as if they always were meant to be together.

Let’s face it. Over the years, I have accumulated a number of habits that diverge from the perceived masculine behavior norm. And yet, I often deprived myself of these true pleasures in an attempt to be the person I thought alluring women and confident men wanted me to be. My age has finally freed me to embrace my quintessence and I’ve got to admit, it feels pretty good.

I have a hunch that others avoid enjoyable opportunities or play uncomfortable roles due to outside expectations. In some cases, this behavior may cause serious stress or emotional pain. It’s more than just pretending to be something you’re not, it’s pretending to be something you don’t truly want to be.

So cultivate a personal pleasure or passion that would surprise your neighbors and friends. I’d love to join you but I just can’t leave all these bubbles.