When I was growing up, I very quickly got the impression from others that feelings were for wusses, and wusses were soft people who have trouble living in this world. I was shown that to be a real man was to have strength, and strength was something that comes from what you can do physically, but never from what you can feel.
When I was a young boy I felt gorgeous, play-full, cute and very tender – quite simply because I was! When I played with my friends early on at school, I remember we all seemed to feel how amazing we were and this made playing with each other so much fun – I had such an awesome time at school when I was a young boy!
Gradually though, I noticed as school progressed that playing with my friends seemed less play-full, less free, and more rough and hard. I started to feel the shifts in the boys in the playground. There was a self conscious shift that started to take place about not wanting to be seen as anything less than how a boy ‘should be’, or what games a boy ‘should play’, in case he was seen as anything less than how a boy ‘should behave’.
I too started to take this on and began to make myself feel small and much less than what I knew myself to be on the inside so that I didn’t stand out as being different.
I thought that when others around me were beginning to shut down their feelings by not expressing their awesome-ness that I needed to follow them, and not stay with my joyful, natural self.
I sometimes wonder how I can express to others the fact that I am actually loving life and loving being me in it, when other people are finding life hard and boring or tough and a struggle. Would they find this too hard to hear? Perhaps they may not even like me for it. Often I feel the pull to dull down how great my day has been so others won’t feel so bad.
What I have come to realise though, is that actually staying with me and staying in my natural joy is the best thing I can do. I see people’s faces light up with the lightness I bring; it’s absolutely brilliant too, because at the same time I’m enjoying being me.
Not so long ago I met someone who reminded me of what I had forgotten – my amazingness. As we talked I could feel that they loved me absolutely for who I was. It was awesome to feel the space this created between us… words weren’t really needed as the love we were feeling between us was so lovely. This person helped remind me that I don’t have to wait for someone else to give me the permission to be all of me… I just need to give that permission to myself.
What I have come to realise is that the feelings of being weak or powerless that I had at school were just my choosing to take on decisions others had made, and not honouring what I felt. True strength simply comes from observing life and allowing what I truly feel from me to be expressed.
By Josh Campbell (20) living in Christchurch, New Zealand