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The Daily Illini

Men should be honest with each other

Margaret Kots

Margaret Kots

By Tyler Panlilio, Columnist

Columnists’ opinions are their own and may not necessarily represent the views of The Daily Illini.

Each year, my high school cross country team would line up at our stadium’s bleachers for picture day. Shortest in the front, tallest in the back, coaches on either side — the usual procedure for high school athletics.

One guy on my team would always make an announcement before we lined up for the picture: “No smiling!” And it didn’t matter if the majority of us didn’t really like the guy or if we idolized him; all of us knew that we weren’t going to smile. We wanted to look cool in the yearbook. What better way to do that than to look intimidating and mean, as skinny and lanky as we were?

Like so many other seemingly trivial things I did and still do as a guy, it’s all to preserve a self-image. An image that we’re not affected by whatever happens to us and that we’re the ones in charge. Not smiling is cool. Not crying is cool. Not wearing your heart on your sleeve is cool. Guys have known since adolescence that being as stone cold and suave as Sean Connery impresses all the women.

It’s pretty old news knowing that guys bottle up a lot of their feelings. It’s an age-old societal norm that does not seem to be letting up. And even if more people are more accepting of men being open with their emotions, a lot of men still don’t budge.

It’s great that more of society recognizes a man’s tendency to keep everything inside. But at the same time, there’s an irony here. This is wholly anecdotal, but guys don’t seem to be nearly as supportive of their other guy friends.

 Besides the generic “You okay, bro?” there’s not much else. A quick conversation about as deep as a puddle and a pat on the back and you’re ready to go. All the problems you were experiencing are now gone, just like that.

 For some odd reason, guys rarely want to delve into personal topics with their dudes. It’s more about hookups, alcohol and sports or games — all materialistic subject matter, more or less.

Continually suppressing feelings can lead to more serious mental health concerns. A 2014 study by YouGov found that “Men in particular are reluctant to get help, with only 31 percent saying they’d see a doctor and 55 percent saying that they would deal with it alone. Women on the other hand tend to say that they would get help (45 percent) rather than keep it to themselves (37 percent).”

To be clear, it’s not about fixing or solving problems that matters. It’s about being there. Just listen to the other person talk, vent or maybe cry. This sentiment goes for everyone, too. The world could always use more listeners.

So maybe guys shouldn’t take it like a man and hide their feelings. In the end, it doesn’t do anyone good to hold it in and it never will. Because every once in awhile, those streams of tears running down your face might help you more than you’d think.

Tyler is a sophomore in media. 

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