Men, 5 Things You Should Remember When You're Not Feeling 'Okay'
I was inspired to write this blog post following the great feedback received. As men, I feel we often internalise our feelings and as a result, can lead to feeling awful.
Here are five things to remember the next time you aren’t feeling okay, as told by someone who understands what it’s like.
1. You are not alone
For a long time, I have felt isolated, alone and quite frankly less of a man because I didn’t always have my shit together. When I tweeted my thoughts on the pressures of ‘adulting’ which eventually led to us creating Let’s Talk, I was amazed by the amount of “me too’s” I received. Many of those were from men and the large majority of those were other black men who seemingly had a lot going well for them.
I bumped into one of my old secondary school dawgs and it hit me, a lot of us older 20-somethings are in the same boat...— Adé Akins ✊🏾 (@ImAdeAkins) September 28, 2017
The next time you feel those thoughts, remember you’re not alone. Some of the people you look up to could feel the same, even worse as you. Talk to someone and if you feel you have nobody to talk to, feel free to email me or if you’re able to, seek help from a trained professional.
CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserable) is a UK charity dedicated to bringing the suicide rate amongst men down. If you didn't know, suicide is the leading killer of men under 45 in the UK.
2. Expectations vs reality
A lot of the pressures you’re probably experiencing come from what you’ve been led to believe is what you should be doing with your life. Where did these expectations come from? Are they what you feel to be realistic or are you being weighed down by someone else's expectations?
We all lead different paths and if like me you believe everything happens for a reason, we cannot be fearful or worry when life seems to go left. As Charlamagne said in his book 'Black Privilege': “God’s GPS always has the latest update.”
3. Who defines what it means to ‘be a man’ anyway?
Macho. Tough. Provider. Strong. Brave. These are the kinds of phrases you’d often associate with the word ‘man’, right? I was blown away when our hosts, Temi Alchemy and Fred Santana (90s Baby Show) asked this question and received none of the above responses.
Men are hard working, men are emotional, men are dynamic, men are human beings too. Emotions and vulnerability are not exclusively female traits, it’s okay to cry if you want to. Similar to the above, don’t let society, women or whatever external noise deceive you into about what being a man means.
4. Social media is what you make it
A lot of men see social media as an escape from normality. Some see it as an alternate reality where nothing is actually real. Others, like me, see it as an opportunity to network with other great men (and women) and connect with like minds. I am not here to tell you how to view social media as that is not my place. I do know that adzvice has been built on social media, everything from the content to our team has all come as a direct result of it. The vast majority of the men who attended had found out about Let’s Talk on Twitter.
A personal highlight of mine was when a guest announced that he felt empowered enough to announce he had been off anti-depressant medication for almost a month! He wanted to share his testimony on social media but wasn’t sure if it was the right place. I am elated to say that once I and many other brothers in the room encouraged him to share his story, this happened:
After attending the incredible @adzvice Let's Talk event last night focusing on men's mental health, organised by the GOAT @imadeakins I felt empowered after sharing my story there, to share it here. Many of you close to me know of my history of mental health problems, but I wanted to share that I've been off anti-depressant medication for almost a month - a personal success of mine. I'm hoping that sharing this will help other people on my social media networks to know that you're not alone if you are struggling and unable to see any hope, but also that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Shout out to all the kings last night for sharing and caring for each other; make sure you try and make it to the next Adzvice event in February! More love and more blessings #adzviceletstalk
5. Self-care is important and relative
Whenever I used to hear the phrase ‘self-care’ I used to associate it with women in a spa. Self-care is for everyone and with the hectic nature of life and with the added pressures of being a man, particularly a minority male, it’s pivotal that one looks after himself.
Our self-care activity saw guests complete their own self-care wheel and the whole idea behind it was to show that not only does self-care have several components, what constitutes as ‘self-care’ is completely up to you. Click here for an example.
Who would have thought something as simple as providing the space for men to talk openly in a comfortable space would even be something that men would want? A better question still, who would have thought that this would all come off the back of my emotional Twitter rant?
I will happily create some form of event or gathering or open discussion that will allow people like me the chance to chat about this more.— Adé Akins ✊🏾 (@ImAdeAkins) September 28, 2017
I am looking forward to more Let’s Talk sessions exclusively for men. Although we also have a women’s Let’s Talk series and will have a special, joint sexes event in February 2018, it is important to for us kings to keep speaking amongst each other.
Whether or not you can make it to one of our events, I urge you to talk more and understand your true strength doesn’t come from how tough you are but how in-tune and honest you are with yourself. It is okay to not be okay.
P.S. This isn't the first time I've written on this topic either, click here to read my post on dealing with a quarter-life crisis.
Blessings my fellow kings!