I know what you're thinking...
I know because I've been there. It's not easy; it never was.
The battle against societal expectations; the "Man Up" rhetoric, the lack of display of emotions; a front deemed to look like you are strong. The reason? You don't want your woman to perceive you as weak. You know how women talk about weak black men? They almost sound like weak black men are the scourge of the earth. So you stay silent and play the big man. You don't want to risk losing the relationship. You're afraid at the thought of her leaving to seek "better". It leaves you alone, exposed and afraid. Will you love again? Will you be loved again? Is there anyone that would want to choose you over someone else?
What about the workplace? Placing your best foot forward at all times? Everyone loves a
hard working man. You want to be the best, the best provider, the highest earner, the one that is respected. So you work hard, ignoring fatigue and the warning signs of burnout. Or maybe you are a hard worker, you're afraid of resting will mean you will lose everything, so you work hard, not for results, but just to make sure that everything is still under your control.
Or maybe you see yourself as constantly struggling, so you succumb under the weight of the "Pressure to Perform". To do the most in the name of being a man, one who is capable of solving problems without breaking a sweat, not wanting to worry anyone, but wanting to show them that you are indeed capable.
Friends? Yeah, you can speak to them. But you don't share all. You don't want to lose their respect. You don't want to sound like a whining baby. Suck it up and handle your business. So you do that instead, you handle your business from the perspective you know and trust; yours.
As we celebrate Black History Month, I share a quote from a forefather that loved his people so much, and the people to come, that his words have been cemented into history:
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. - Martin Luther King Jr
Your voices matter, your emotions matter, your feelings matter. So does your health.
Surround yourselves with people who love you for who you are, not what you can or can't do.
Celebrate your successes, no matter how small they are.
Pace yourselves, for you working to provide a service is great, but not at the cost of your health. Be productive, not busy.
Do not be afraid to speak out, and if you need help, then seek it. From my experience, as a brother, as your brother and the events where brothers come together, we are struggling with the same thing.
Do I matter? Hey, Mr Man - you have life, therefore you matter.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aron,
Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing-
Speak my brother. You the man.