I didn’t see a boy really cry until a few months ago. I hadn’t seen a boy show symptoms of anxiety or depression until I was almost an adult. For a long time I was convinced that perhaps men were just supposed to always appear secure, powerful, and in control.
But the truth is society, strong men cry too and its time to amplify the conversation about social norms, when it comes to masculinity.
A study commissioned by The Priory in 2015 uncovered the most common reasons why men don’t talk about their mental health. The top 5 were as follows:
-“I’ve learnt to deal with it”
-“I’m too embarrassed”
-“I don’t want to appear weak”
-“I don’t want to be a burden to anyone”
-“There’s a negative stigma around this”
Furthermore, a startling 22 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t even feel comfortable to speak to a professional in fear that it would waste their time.
It is evident today, that society is uncomfortable with a boy who cries. Society is unsettled to see a man curled up in bed, exhausted from constantly trying to hide the darkness that exists in his head.
For too long, society has told men to “man up”, instilling fear on them for being “too sensitive” or “too dramatic”.
The toxic stereotype of “lad culture” arising in the early 1990s has caused men to walk around with their emotions trapped inside like a ticking time bomb. It’s toxic that men are afraid of receiving support and love in case they are viewed as weak. It’s toxic that the majority of men fear basic human treatment, in case they are disowned by society. What a terrifying fact to understand.
Society shouts in the faces of men “be someone different, don’t be such a girl”
Society screams a thousand other ways that men don’t feel because… they’re men.
But here’s the wonderful, beautiful thing society. Real men do cry. Real men do feel. Real men talk and grieve and accept an emotional soul instead of an imprisoned one.
Real men do not hide behind a mask of strength.
You cannot be strong if you never embrace being weak.
Maybe one day, we will see a brave new world where men can stand with an emotional vocabulary and aren’t afraid to use it. Where men can appreciate the beauty of receiving help for their worries. Where men can ask for support without fearing the wrath of society.
Where men can be real men, and with strength they will cry.