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The Talk: I was told by society to ‘man up’

4 mins read

I remember years ago, sitting in a physical education lesson at high school. We were playing football outside, and I was in goal. A few minutes later, I missed a dive as a player from the other team scored.

The mentality at the time was not one of sportsmanship, guidance or support. Instead, my own team decided the best course of action was to ridicule my performance. There was no consideration for my emotions at the time.

A few of these lessons went by, and I had the same response. I felt overwhelmed and defeated, and decided to single-handedly just walk out of the lessons, ignoring the teacher’s strict and often non-warranted reactions.

Changing-room culture was where young men were told to suppress emotions, and just get on with it. Of course it didn’t matter that your clothes might be thrown into the dirty shower, leaving you having to either stay in the changing-room before they dried and risk being scolded for missing other classes.

You couldn’t shed tears, because that wasn’t ‘being a real man’ and it would only result in more toxic behaviour from other guys. You had to ‘bottle it up’ and face the reality, as if wearing dirty and wet school clothes around an environment with smells of body-odour and cigarette smoke was a rite of passage.

Fast forward to today, and the majority of guys have problems with speaking out, and seeking support. This is a problem that has manifested and grown since school years, and even before.

Many men won’t consult their doctors or get medical advice. They seem to be conforming to an idea that has them just getting things done, without being allowed to feel anything emotionally.

As a result, men’s health has reached a crisis point where we have major trouble asking for help, because to do so would mean you can’t get s**t done like a real man.

And not only that, this translates into relationship problems in which many men might fall in love far quicker and easier than women, without understanding the intricacies of relationship dynamics. This has far more potentially disastrous and problematic consequences.

The net result of all this, is that men’s suicide rates are incredibly high and support for men’s health is lacking considerably.

I was effectively placed into a vacuum by which I had to leave my emotions at the door. I have struggled with dating and relationships, especially when I thought I may have fallen in love at first sight, when actually I just wanted comfort and intimacy and someone to tell me I could express myself.

I spent years bottling stuff up and never asking for help for fear of ‘burdening’ the system. Be it doctors, nurses, teachers, friends. The system told me to forget about all that, and just get on with life.

I was told by society to man up.

And this is where we now are.

Feature image credit: Pexels

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