For the first 32 years of my life I did everything I could to hide my emotions.
I was scared to death to let people see me struggle…
Or for my friends to see my flaws.
So I buried it all inside.
The quiet, stoic mask that I wore prevented me from appearing weak. But it also prevented me from truly connecting with people.
When I talked to people, they weren’t talking to “Justin”. They were talking to a version of Justin that I thought they wanted to see.
But it wasn’t me.
It was just an act.
It was a performance.
Hiding these emotions for so long left me with an underlying feeling of anger and frustration.
And it permeated everything I did.
Recently when I finally became aware that I had these issues, I decided to really dig in and figure out where they came from.
I wanted to know why I was like this. Why was I afraid to open up? Why was I afraid to share my struggles?
After some introspection, and talking with other guys, I quickly realized that I wasn’t the only guy struggling with this.
It’s an epidemic among men.
As men, we have a HARD time asking for help when we’re struggling.
Because we’ve been conditioned our whole lives NOT to talk about this stuff.
When things are tough, we’re taught from an early age to “be a man and deal with it”.
We’re taught that crying or showing emotion is weakness.
We’re taught that real men don’t ask for help.
So we bottle everything up inside of us.
And we live with this underlying feeling of anger and frustration because of it.
For as many advantages as men have in the world, this is one area where men are way behind.
Women openly talk about their problems and their struggles every single day.
And when they do, there’s always a friend who’s willing to listen.
Most guys don’t have an emotional support system like this.
If a guy wants to talk about a sexual problem he’s having, or the fact that he’s overwhelmed…most of his friends will simply laugh at him.
They’ll be scared to talk about something so vulnerable.
So they’ll make a joke. Or avoid the topic all together.
Without an outlet to talk about this stuff, most men wind up dealing with their shame and their struggles the same way I did…
By “soothing” their pain with outside forces.
So for me, my soothing was chasing money and success.
Burying myself in my work allowed me to temporarily ignore all the feelings of anger and worthlessness that were eating at my insides. It made me feel like things might get better down the road.
But chasing money and success didn’t actually fix anything.
It was just a band-aid that let me temporarily avoid the pain I was feeling.
For other guys money might not appeal to them. So they turn to alcohol, TV, food, women, buying stuff etc…
We think that all of these things will make us feel better. And that they’ll erase the pain that’s eating at our insides.
But they won’t.
It took me a while to see that. And to finally realize that the only way to heal the underlying shame and suffering I felt was to talk about it.
Which frankly scared the shit out of me.
But I realized that if I continued to keep everything inside, I’d continue to suffer in silence.
And I was tired of living like that.
Suffering in silence doesn’t help anyone.
It doesn’t help men. It doesn’t help the women we love. And it doesn’t help the children that are watching our every move.
The only thing that helps is talking about it.
Which is an enormous struggle for men.
But you have to do it.
You have to share your struggles, ask for help and risk being vulnerable.
Because what you get on the other side is freedom.
Freedom from anger…freedom from frustration…and the freedom to be yourself.
That’s something that no amount of money or success can ever give you.
And it all starts with simply sharing the stuff that you’re trying so hard to hide.
I’m still working on sharing more of myself every single day.
And it’s my sincere hope that my story helps a few guys to share their struggles and their fears with others.