Boys don’t cry, men do

Bruno+Beidacki.

Bruno Beidacki.

Bruno Beidacki

I have a confession to make. It was Saturday night, I was watching Safe Haven — yes, the adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel — for the first time, and I cried. Not once, but twice. And what pisses me off the most about the whole thing is that my first instinct was to feel pathetic about it.

Before allowing myself to be sensitive and accept the fact that a sad scene could take an emotional toll on me, I questioned how others would think of me? Would they see me as less of a man? Would I be made fun of for crying during a well-known chick flick?

This negative wondering is a product of the toxic masculinity culture that still haunts men around the world. This culture preaches that “real men” are those who don’t show emotions and feelings, who seem unaffected by anything whatsoever. Even the loss of a family member is not enough reason for a so-called “real man” to shed a tear.

It’s sad. It’s sad because it oppresses one of the most human things we do: feel. More than that, it’s sad because it teaches us that vulnerability is weak. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Vulnerability is key in our constant pursuit for confidence and happiness. The moment we allow ourselves to tell others about our flaws and insecurities, we show we are comfortable enough to share our questions and concerns about ourselves. Being openly vulnerable is being brave, it’s being confident.

For years, I was afraid of telling others how I felt. I wanted to be the alpha male in the room, and that meant acting like I was confident, when others saw the truth: I was cocky and arrogant. Acting like I lacked sensitivity and conformed to the characteristics of a “real man” was the way I found to make myself seen by others. And I’m afraid it’s what happens to many college students as well, as the toxic masculinity culture is even more ingrained on college campuses.

To send a cute good morning text to the girl I like is to show weakness. To talk about how much you love your little cousin or how you look forward to having kids in the future is to be feminine. To cry after a parent loses her son on your favorite TV show is “girly”.

But the truth is that, since I convinced myself that my vulnerability was a positive thing, my life only got better. I don’t think twice before I tell my friends that losing my cousin last year still spurs long nights of crying, and I don’t hesitate before telling my girlfriend how much I love her. My vulnerability gives me strength to be honest to myself and to others, and they seem to enjoy. My presence is now noticed due to real confidence, not a poor attempt at presenting myself as an alpha male.

You should try it too. Crying is good, even if it’s because of how you just wasted hours of your life reading a Nicholas Sparks novel. I won’t judge you. And maybe one day no one will either.

Bruno Beidacki is the opinion editor. Contact him at [email protected]