Growing up, being honest
was like the most sacred of sacred rules in the house. It was honestly a
warzone if you ever dared to lie. Now imagine what would happen if you were
caught lying. I know, horrible. Just HORRIBLE. But there was this moment
growing up that I often reflect upon.
It was a mundane July
morning. Sunset pouring into the room just enough to illuminate and give life
to our considerably lively living room full of medals that my brother and I won
from like a lot of contest in elementary school. I was the first one awake (as
usual) so I thought of going to our backyard to like look around the world, but
with compromise. It’s like leaving, but just half way to experience what the
feeling of leaving is really like. As I got down the stairs, I saw a car parked
outside of our house.
Being the naturally
honest kid I was, you might think that I went straight up to my parent’s room
and notified them about the unexpected visitor that was lurking outside of our
house as a naturally honest kid would do, but no. Instead, I immediately
prepared for battle. And when I mean battle, I mean like the most powerful
military force that has ever walked this earth times two. And naturally, a
clothing hanger, blanket, pillow, lamp, and light-up Disney shoes are the
perfect makeshift artillery needed to vanquish the said enemy. I was preparing
for war. That is, until my parents came down to witness what was probably the
worst medieval knight costume idea.
Dad: “What are you doing!?”
Mom: “And what in the world is that?”
Me: “A highly evolved fashion sense.”
And since I lied, well, let’s just say at least I was
ready for battle.
My parents came right
around our mahogany door and peeked through the curtains. It turns out it was
my cousins coming for a visit! We played all day that day. We played hide and
seek, tag, hopscotch, cops and robbers, and of course-my favorite-, Uno Cards!
You might be wondering, “Where is the
persuasion in all of this?” Well here it is. As we were in the middle of playing
cards, my Mom calls the four of us inside for a light snack. We went inside,
washed our hands-because germs-, and start to consume what was once a nicely
plated entrée of kid friendly snacks. Then, what probably seemed to be one of
the most memorable things that could happen to me, happened.
“What are you doing?”
“Don’t eat too much now, you’ll get fat.”
was the first time I felt insecure. Probably not one of the most memorable
firsts you expect to encounter. I didn’t know what that meant at that time. So
I decided to brush it off. We continued our play session that afternoon by
playing with my cousins Barbie dolls. We also added a theatrical element by
using my toys to act as supporting characters in our makeshift musical. Then
the second most memorable thing happened.
Dad: “Why are you playing with Barbies!?”
Me: “Because it’s fun!”
Later that day, after my cousins went home, my dad
talked to me.
Dad: “Son, I don’t want to see you playing with
“Because it’s hard enough being fat, what more if you’re gay? I don’t want to
see you weak, son. You are my son so
you should be strong.”
To a child, that seemed a
bit too much bear. Being a man sure is hell, if I’m being honest. In my eyes I
wanted to be accepted by father, until now I still can’t seem to accept the
fact that acceptance is what I nearly died for. So, I did my best to cure
myself. I thought being strong was acting masculine, so I hit the gym. I
thought being strong was being popular, so I posted updates of my life on a
daily basis. I thought being strong was being straight, so I dated all the
girls I needed to feel complete.
“Be strong” said my Dad.
But not strong enough.
To give these ideals to a child who barely knows
anything, is wrong. It’s killing their innocence. How innocent I was back then
when my biggest problem was having to sleep early, but now, I don’t even know
myself at all. I thought I would’ve been happy by now. But nothing could be
farther from the truth.
At one point in my life, I thought, “No one will love
you if you’re unattractive.” And so I became attractive. Switching diet after
diet, counting every single calorie until there was nothing left to count, opting
that one day I’ll be old enough for a facelift because “Beauty is Pain.” I
thought of ending it all at one point.
I wish I didn’t care all the time and the truth is I
can’t. I found love where it wasn’t supposed to be. I looked for peace in
trying to achieve beauty, instead I found insanity. Now I’m basking in glory of
all of my problems.
Not a man enough.
Not beautiful enough.
Not strong enough.
Not good enough to be normal.
I’ve grown up with these
standards of living believing that if I’d follow these standards I’d live a
life of happiness. The truth is, nowadays I don’t cry anymore. It’s not because
I don’t want to. I just can’t. I’ve practiced to hold my tongue long enough,
I’m afraid I forgot how to feel anything at all. While there is a difference
between women fearing of being raped and being beaten up by men, and men not
being able to cry. Not being able to feel. Do you know what it feels like to
This is what makes us
guys. We all shut out our feelings to feel normal. To be acceptable in society
is to be emotionless. The perfect concoction that kills us “strong”
people inside. Toxic masculinity is a standard that creates misogynists and
closed minded bigots in this world. It causes most of our generation’s societal
problems all because men aren’t strong enough to be men.
A life that’s been loved
is a life that’s been lived. All I ask to anyone who’s reading this is to open
our minds and open our hearts to be our genuine selves. Because honestly I
don’t know where to start. How will I admit that I’m falling apart?
And you might just help in seeking the answer.