This year a friend reached out, asking me to join his Movember team. I accepted his invitation but didn’t care much for it.
But like a ragged stache, the idea grew on me. Mini firecracker-revelations popcorned in my head.
This year’s been tough for everyone, but it’s been tough for men in a very specific way. For us, the quarantine became not only a state of self-contained bodies, but self-isolated thoughts and emotions too.
Men are not good at sharing their feelings.
Ever since my dad left Jaffna (a city in northern Sri Lanka), he hit the ground running and he’s been running ever since. Even when Uber – his full-time job at the time – terminated his account, he started his own (barely successful) limo company. He managed to get a website and an online booking system up and running. Running. Of course he had help but it was still quite the feat for an immigrant dad in his 60s.
My dad’s a do-er, always running. So when the quarantine asked him to finally stop running, he didn’t quite know what to do.
Being stuck at home, my dad was intolerable. He would complain about every little thing, and of course we took it for face value. If he complained about my room door not being closed, we assumed he was mad about my room door not being closed when in reality, these little nags were a result of the emotional stress that he refused to talk out.
I see myself in my dad. It’s hard for me to talk about myself and the things I go through, even with my closest friends.
A couple days before Movember started, one of my friends reached out to me in emotional distress; he was going through a rough patch and needed someone to talk to. After he finished telling me what he was going through, he told me a story of something he witnessed earlier that day:
“I watched a bird sit in the middle of the road, alive but not moving. I wasn’t sure whether it could fly or not. Whether it needed help or time. In an instant a car ran it over. In another, another car came, blocked off the oncoming lane and a singular swift move, swooped up the dying bird and drove off.”
That day, his story, his vulnerability all left a mark on me. He called me because he needed someone to talk to, but he helped me in a way far greater than my passive ears ever could; he
helped me realize the infectious quality of opening up to people. It sets a precedent, opens up a two-way bridge that normalizes asking for help.
For someone like me who has trouble asking for help, see another man just willfully and willingly asking for emotional support inspired me. It made me realize that we often ask our friends for help when we want to lift a heavy piece of furniture, so why can’t the same apply for when we need to lift an emotional payload that’s too much for one person to bear alone?
I had a burst of motivation fueled by the revelation that men are evolving. This Movember, I had a vision: a collective energy of beardless men united for a month in this act of setting aside our egos and being ugly.
The world is ugly. Someone will run you over without looking back. But it’s beautiful too. Someone else will block off the oncoming lane and in a singular swift move, swoop and save you.