A Note for the Boys: Being a Man
Being a man in this space isn’t without its challenges. For as much support and encouragement as there is, I still observe and experience a lot of negative aspects to mental health from a male perspective. Because unfortunately, a lot of people are performative. They want to be seen supporting men but they are rarely happy when men actually begin to speak up.
Online in particular, men are told to speak about their feelings. And this is great. But what isn’t great is then being told that the way you feel is wrong, inappropriate, misogynistic, sexist, problematic – the list of words used to silence men goes on and on. If all emotions are valid then all expressions of these emotions are valid too. And some men do feel things that are not good. But the goal should not be to silence these men, it should be to help these men work through these emotions so that they can get to a healthier place.
And now I want to speak to men directly because this post is for you:
There will be times from now until the day you die when you feel that you cannot speak up simply because of your manhood. You will hear that voice in your head telling you to be quiet, to hold back the tears and to push all of what you feel down into the darkness.
There will also be times when you feel you are being blamed for each and every problem the world faces. In many spaces, you will read things written by nasty people about you and your gender, and you will begin to wonder if maybe they are right. You will be led to believe, word by word, that you are a monster simply because you were born a particular sex. You will be told again and again to be quiet because you do not have a say in this conversation because you are a man.
This will happen. But it is up to you whether you believe it it is up to you whether you listen to the voice telling you ‘man up’. And it is up to you whether you believe the horrible and untrue things bad people say.
I am not subscribed to the victimhood model of mental health. I am more a disciple of the hero model of mental health. And this means you do not get to blame the world for how you feel. How the world makes you feel is a result of how you are thinking about the world. And it is easy – so terribly easy – to turn into a victim because these takes you out of the equation. It absolves you of any responsibility for how you are feeling. And I believe that you are entirely responsible for the way you feel.
So be a man in whatever form that takes. There are no right answer. But take responsibility for how you feel. Cry when crying is necessary. Take no undue shit from people who are filled with hate. Rise to the occasion of your life. Understand that just because someone else believes terrible things it doesn’t mean they are true.
You are not a monster just because you are a man. I refuse to bend to this ideology. You are a man and you can become a monster if you don’t take responsibility for yourself.