This made Coram feel Alive, Authentic, Confident, Connected, Friendship, Genuine, Independent, Nourished, Positive, Resilient, Strong, Valued.

229 views and 2 inspires.

I was intrigued when I was asked if wanted to join a men's group. The invitation came through an ongoing conversation about masculinity that I'd been in for a while, and the idea touched on an engrained apprehension I have had with all-male groups. I moved home and school when I was 14 and spent my ensuing adolescence feeling like I didn't fit in, particularly amongst the pack of teenage boys into which I'd been deposited. The opportunity to explore and confront some of this in a held context was certainly interesting, even if I had no real idea what to expect - there was part of me that couldn't quite get past the image of Edward Norton being tightly embraced by the massively moobed Meat Loaf in Fight Club...

In actual fact, all we do is talk for about an hour and a half each week. About our lives, our families, our relationships, our jobs, our health, our childhoods, politics, religion, power, anger and fear, joy and excitement... pretty much anything aside from football and cars. The women reading this might not find that particularly earth-shattering, but my experience of all-male friendship groups is that getting past the dreaded 'banter' is hard, and individuals often play roles that feel safe to them - the leader, the joker, the story-teller, the motor-mouth, the quiet one. I am naturally introverted, so I have an aversion to small-talk that just exists to fill up space, but the teenage experiences of exclusion left me afraid of revealing too much. So I often felt paralysed inside a dichotomy - an aversion to the superficial, but a fear of depth - and so I became the quiet one.

I'm not going to claim that attending the group has suddenly transformed into a gregarious life-and-soul-of-the-party kinda guy. In many ways, it's about the exact opposite - I'm uncovering a way of being that's comfortable with my quiet side, but much less afraid of voicing my feelings and ideas. And I've discovered that this authenticity is like a muscle - the more I practice it in the group, the more I'm able to bring it to relationships throughout my life. Anything from dealing with a break-up and sharing how I felt about it with my mum, to finally finding the words and means to tell a friend of two decades how much his friendship meant. Something like that feels unlikely to emerge through a conversation about Top Gear...