Why The Movember Foundation? My Story. 

So, why The Movember Foundation? For me, it’s really an issue of breaking some male stereotypes that are so deeply engrained in our society. Over the past year or so, I’ve begun to really see how serious and tragic male suicide rates are. When I see that men are 3.5x more likely than women to die by suicide, my heart breaks for their silent struggle. 

Throughout elementary, middle, high school, and even a little into college, I was that guy silently struggling. I was a straight-A student, captain of my track and cross country teams, a seemingly happy kid, and an all-around fairly likable guy. Because of this, I wasn’t on anybody’s radar as someone who was struggling. But I was. I was struggling to figure out who I was as a person. I struggled to understand who I was apart from my accomplishments. I struggled with my parents’ divorce. I struggled to figure out what my future would look like. I struggled with navigating through different challenges life threw at me. I struggled with suicidal thoughts. I cried a lot, but rarely in front of anyone. I can’t say this is the experience of every guy out there, but I know I’m not the only one. Thankfully, in college, I started to see the importance of being vulnerable and talking things out with other guys. It was only when I started doing this that I saw that I wasn’t alone. I started to see that my experiences were not unique to me. The words “me too” were the most comforting words I had ever heard. 

I do want to add that none of my personal struggles and lack of support was my parents’ fault. They grew up in the same society that I did. A society that taught that boys just need to toughen up, suck it up, power through pain, and not talk about their feelings or struggles. My parents did the best they could with what they knew and what they had, and for that I’m so incredibly grateful. They did a great job raising me, and I wouldn’t be the man I am today without them. 

I long for a society that understands the importance of talking things out, seeking help when necessary, and that doesn’t think something is “wrong” with someone when he seeks a professional counselor to improve his mental health. The idea that guys just need to “suck it up” permeates not only mental health arenas, but it bleeds into physical health too. Guys don’t seek medical attention when they feel something isn’t right in their bodies because they’re just going to “power through” it. As a result, men are dying of testicular and prostate cancer, two cancers with high survivability when detected early. Men are also dying of heart disease and a slew of other diseases at alarming rates simply because they don’t seek medical attention. 

Guys. Get help when you need it. Take preventative measures for your physical AND mental health. Stay active. Talk to people you trust about what you’re thinking, feeling, struggling with, etc. It’s one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. This is why I’m choosing to support The Movember Foundation

Visit my my fundraising page to help raise money for this incredible foundation! 

Muscles, Sex, and Manhood

While I was driving today, a commercial came on the radio that made me stop and think. It was a commercial for a male supplement that was supposed to increase testosterone levels. It started by saying something to the effect of, “Men aren’t men anymore. We’ve gotten soft and timid. It’s time we get our manhood back!” Then it went on to talk about how taking these supplements will boost testosterone, enhancing performance in the gym and in the bedroom. It’ll aid in muscle growth and boost overall energy. It went on to say, “If the results are TOO intense, reduce your dosage.” I don’t remember what the actual supplement, or whatever they were selling, was called. And if I’m honest, I don’t even care. I wouldn’t even mention them if I did remember. Nobody needs this nonsense. 

At first, I thought it was hilarious because of how ridiculous it all was. But then, as I glanced over to the passenger seat at my 13-year-old little brother, taking it all in, I got a little sad. I got sad because I realized that some guys actually believe this crap. And I think our society at large believes this to a certain extent. They believe that the manhood is measured by how big our muscles are, how good we are in bed, how intense our workouts are, etc. 

So I turned down the radio and explained to my little brother that manhood is not about all of that. Manhood is about how you treat others. It’s about how you treat women. It’s about how you lead your life. It has nothing to do with how you look or how you perform (in bed, on the field, at the gym, etc). I’ve seen too many boys and too many men plagued with insecurities because they don’t fit the stereotype of what others expect men to be. They’re not the athletic type. They don’t spend their weekends watching football and drinking beer. They don’t spend their Friday nights looking for the next hookup, and they have no interest in partaking in this hookup culture that’s become so normal. They don’t spend hours at the gym to get “jacked” and don’t know how much they can bench or squat. They don’t fit society’s definition of a man, but it doesn’t make them any less of one. This isn’t to say that guys that do watch sports, drink beer, go to the gym, etc. aren’t “real” men. It’s just that those things aren’t what make them men. 

Treat others well. Respect and honor women. Sacrifice for the people you love. Fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. Stand up for justice. Lead your life well. Have goals. Short term and long term. Know when to ask for help. Be ready and willing to be that help for others. Be a man of your word. Believe in something bigger than yourself. Be humble. Be honest. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Keep your integrity. Work hard. Keep learning. 

I’m tired of the stereotype. I’m tired of men walking around thinking they’re less than because they don’t fit the stereotype. And I’m tired of men trying so hard to fit the stereotype that they lose themselves in the midst of their pursuit of it. 

I’ve quoted this many times but I’ll quote it again: 

Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.” —St. Francis de Sales.