In anticipation of his arrival at my school I read Carlos Andrés Gómez’s memoir, Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood. In the memoir Carlos bravely recounts life events that led him to the man he is today. Fumbling through masculine expectations, navigating being a man and wanting to be *gasp* emotional at the same time, Carlos shows his readers that it is ok, even encourages people to embrace their true selves and push away gender roles and norms.
There are probably just shy of a million potential blog posts I could write after reading it but there was one section that has stuck with me the longest. And after hearing Carlos speak I became even more intrigued with the idea. Ready for the earth shattering concept? Telling someone I love you. Now maybe this is because I am graduating soon, maybe it is because I am sleep deprived, maybe it is due to my out of control hormones at this moment or just maybe Carlos struck a nerve with an idea I have been grappling with some time now.
I will let a passage from Man Up explain,
When the words “beautiful” and “I love you” become like land mines in our life — things to be avoided at all costs — what do we become? How do we not begin to devalue what we have to share with the world? I made it a big point a few years ago to stop using those extraneous words when I tell someone I love them, especially other men
How often do we ignore our feelings? I don’t mean like “damn that person cut me off on the free way I want to scream kind of feelings” (although if you’ve ever driven with me you know I think these are valid feelings as well!). I am talking I love you as a human being, as a friend, as a lover, as a family member or any other relationship.
What I appreciate most about Carlos’s analysis is the mention of extraneous words, putting words to make the I love you seem less powerful or less meaningful. Saying I love you dude or hey man I love you somehow seems less serious than looking someone straight in the eye and saying I love you. It is a much more vulnerable statement, even though in theory we are saying the exact same thing. It sounds easy but in practice it becomes difficult for many of us.
This is especially frowned upon for men. It is not fair. As Carlos expressed during his performance at my school, we need to start telling men they are beautiful. Showing them and everyone else that men can be sensitive, vulnerable, emotional and beautiful.
Let tears stream down your face when you are sad. Embrace others when they need a friend. Tell someone you love them. Tell them why. And remind them often.