What if I told you one of the hardest things to be in the world is being a college aged man?
You are probably baffled at that idea. But men are often struggling with identifying their challenges and masking the challenges they are facing
Every day I get to work with college students and a large portion of my career and volunteer work has been working with college men. As I work with these men and coach them on life and leadership, I find myself seeing similar issues that I faced along the way. I find them trying to be strong and independent but desperately looking for someone to talk to. Someone to help. Someone to ask questions that they need answers to but cannot simply form the words that ask.
Unasked questions continue to linger long after the conversations end. When they remain unasked then they also remain unanswered and as men we go often seek answers from society and popular culture. We answer them from watching our leaders on tv, scrolling through social media, and listening to music. This leads to answers that often include men holding in their feelings and emotions and being afraid to engage in discourse
We know that not processing feelings can lead to lower mental and emotional well-being which drives into our physical well-being. This often will manifest through mental health challenges, anger issues, and substance abuse. But we often don’t know where to start to begin shifting our mindsets or ideas. Simply put, change is really hard.
But we must commit to making change and identifying how we can impact our lives and the lives of our peers for the better. If we take it one step at a time we can make the impact we want.
So let’s start in the most simple ways of creating change by asking ourselves three questions:
What is one small thing I can change in my everyday life?
This could be sharing when you are frustrated or asking a friend to talk. The little things add up and it is important to choose something that is manageable.
What is one thing I can do in my organization or group to cause change?
This can be stopping a tradition or activity that is problematic or simply changing narratives around themed events or programming. It could be setting aside time for members to ask questions in meeting or sharing mental health information.
What is one thing I can be in my community to create change?
It could be an action, creation of a cause, sharing your story, or standing with others. Sometimes we don’t know the solution to a problem but often showing up and supporting a cause is just as important to having the answers.
No one is asking you to be a warrior or a hero. Just that you start thinking about the small incremental ways that you can make an impact on yourself and those around you. Because I believe that by trying to be better than you were the day before helps everyone. If we can all be a little bit better, then our organizations, our campuses, and our communities can be a whole lot better.
Learn more about The Masculinity Project at campuspeak.com/masculinityproject