Dear Men, your feelings are normal. Let’s normalize expressing it?

Men’s feelings should not be expressed publicly

I remember attending a funeral a few years ago where a couple lost their son due to some unfortunate events. I had known his father for a couple of years and knew that he is an emotional person and a loving father. During the funeral, the mother of the deceased was drenched in tears and had relatives all around her who were looking after her, while on the other side, the father (who just couldn’t stop talking about his son) had gone numb. His face and body language were telling me that he is about to break down and he needs someone but he was trying so hard to keep himself together because of those judgemental eyes when men express their feelings. The “macho-man” who is always tough gets too tough on a man, indeed. A man can’t even show an inch of his vulnerability because the little kid in him still believes that the feelings of a boy aren’t human emotions but male weaknesses.

What’s more pathetic?

A - Boys expected to be tough as if it’s a compulsion or

B - Crying to be seen as a weakness.

Because the last time I checked, crying is a response to an emotional event that leaves us overwhelmed, either positively or not. But all of us hide our tears like it’s a sin. And if you are a guy and your tears are seen or men’s feelings are seen existing (pun intended) and you have personally experienced this then I am sorry if you were punished by being laugh upon and had to face social embarrassment just because our society lacks understanding and empathy.

So this is an open letter to all the men out there who have struggled enough to “man up” for the entire part of their lives as they were told men’s feelings are a shame.

Dear Male,

I recall how I used to cry my heart out when my toys would be broken, but I also remember how my brother used to scream out of frustration and anger when anything happened to his toys. Once, I saw his 4-year-old eyes filled with tears for the first time and I was expecting my grandmom to wipe his tears and calm him down as she did for me. Instead, her talks looked like my brother’s tears are not his emotions but our family’s embarrassment. She did sound disappointed that my brother wasn’t strong enough. I bet he wouldn’t know the meaning of ‘being strong’ at the age of 4 but he was expected to be. He is living up to that expectation to date and it does break my heart a letter to see him suffer in silence. I know he won’t even admit to himself, let alone venting to me. The family does teach boys that men’s feelings can’t be expressed.

So back to the one reading this, I know since childhood you have been taught that the only emotion you can express is ‘anger’.

But trust me on this, letting our pain out and rolling down your ‘tough’ boundaries won’t make you weak, won’t make you feel judged because what you deserve is a hug.

So let me tell you that dear boy, shedding a few tears or even a bucket of it, won’t question your masculinity. You don’t need to be perfect, you don’t need to be strong, and you don’t even need to be tough. All you need to be is you. The one who can wear his heart on his sleeves and that man who ain’t afraid of expressing his feelings.

If you are the one who can’t easily move on after a break-up or the one can’t stop his tears when he is stressed, then be hurt, be moody, be sad, be whatever but please just don’t be ashamed of yourself.

It’s okay if a few words keep you up all night, or a stupid mockery makes it hard for you to get by.

You have a heart that is meant to have feelings and there is no need to hate yourself or pull yourself down because you are a man.

I’m sorry that you had to ‘man-up’ when you were bullied for the first time. I'm sorry that your natural feminine qualities like being emotional and sensitive were laughed upon. I'm sorry when they asked you to be a 'Gentleman', they didn't tell you to be gentle to the man in yourself who is a human first.

You don’t have to always be at your best self, you don’t always have to be the best. Just be a human. A human who expresses more than his anger. A person who cries his heart out when his dreams seem to shatter or the one who needs the tightest hug during a bad day.

Just remember that -

You can be a tough person but have a soft heart. Accepting your insecurities shows your confidence and not your weakness. Showing your tears and expressing your emotions won’t question your masculinity. You have given a crying shoulder to many, so there is no need to ask for a shoulder to cry on from someone else.

Don’t be man enough. Just be you.

- Urvi Pandya

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