There are so many sayings that have been used to take us through life. As much as these sayings are supposed to make us become better human beings, there is one particular one that I find to be completely useless and it should, by all means, be erased from our minds.
You already know the saying that I’m talking about, right? Our men have been brought up in a society that mocks and laughs at them whenever they show the slightest bit of emotions. They are never expected to feel and if they do, then they have to do all it takes to suppress the feelings. From childhood, boys are told to toughen up; they are told to be okay with everything that happens to them. As much as being tough is a good thing in itself since it prepares us for the hurdles in life, the toughness that our boys are usually taught is an unrealistic kind of toughness.
We teach boys to be strong but we forget to tell them that there is strength in being weak. Our young boys grow up loathing vulnerability, emotions, and tears, yet those are some of the things that make up a complete human. Human beings feel happy, sad, angry, and emotional. We all feel all kinds of emotions and it is only natural to allow oneself to feel whatever it is they are feeling. Why then, do we raise our boys to shy away from experiencing natural feelings?
We force boys to be ‘real men’ in a way that is messy – a way that tells them feeling bad and crying over something that makes them feel bad is unmanly. This toxic way of raising boys has resulted in society having so many messed up teenage boys, young adults, and men in general. Boys grow up with so many bottled up emotions, and the only way they can let them out is through drugs and alcohol consumption and/or being aggressive.
As a society, we need to redefine masculinity. We must adopt a new way of raising boys. Start with that close male friend that you have, that brother who is always there for you, your newborn son, your nephew, and male cousins. Tell him that he doesn’t always have to be strong, that crying over something that makes him feel bad is normal, that talking about his problems won’t mean that he is any less of a man and that it is okay to not be okay.
84 men a week take their own life and 75% of all suicides are male. The best thing you could do this Mental Health Awareness Month is to break the stupid trend of telling our young boys that “real men don’t cry”. I yearn to see a new generation of men who find pride in simply being human.