You do not know how I feel,
Although you claim you do.
You can walk past me on the streets
And oogle at my face,
And think that all is well.
But deep down,
My heart is heavy.
You don’t know how hard it is to be me,
To go through life unable to express yourself
Because people expect you to be a certain way.
“Be a man,” they say.
But what if I don’t want to fit into that stereotypical identity that you throw in my face?
What if I want to be free from them instead?
What if I want to be different?
What if I want to make my own choices without bothering myself about what the average man is expected to do in the same situation?
Society has too much expectations for me
“At age sixteen, you should already be supporting the family.”
“By age twenty, you should have left your parents’ house.”
“By age twenty-three, you should be done with school and be preparing to settle down.”
But what if all these things never work out for me?
What if I don’t make my first billion at an early age?
Does that mean that I would never be accepted?
Does that mean that my value is only tied to the things I’m able to achieve?
Does that mean that without monetary success
I’ll never be loved by the ones around me?
It bothers me when I realize that
I will never understand what unconditional love really means.
I have been through hell,
But no one ever stops to ask me if I need help getting through my trauma.
That is because they do not even believe
That men can be traumatized
We are looked down on
When we show the slightest form of emotion.
When we cry,
They say that we are acting like our female contemporaries.
And when we laugh,
They say that we’re not taking our lives seriously.
In their heads,
We’re supposed to be stoic,
Supernaturally able to go through anything without batting an eyelid,
When in fact it shouldn’t be so.
I am afraid of failure.
I am afraid of letting my family down.
I am afraid that I’ll never be the perfect son.
The one that takes his family out of poverty
And into the streets of the legendary Banana Island.
I am afraid that I’ll never be loved
By Cheta that lives down the street.
For since my heart was captured by her,
I’ve not had the courage to tell her how I feel.
Because she wants an already-made man
Someone who has all his life figured out
And I am not that man.
I am afraid that someone else would come and steal her heart
Before I even get the opportunity to speak to her for the first time.
And these fears,
They plague me everyday.
But no one really cares to hear,
So I don’t bother telling.
I don’t bother challenging these stereotypes either
Because there’s only so much you can do against unnumbered foes.
My voice gets drowned out by the many voices,
Questioning my every move,
Questioning my very personality.
I don’t even know who I am anymore.
But am I hopeful that things will change?
Because I know that the society will always have
Expectations for the men that live in it,
And I know that those expectations
Will always be enough to silence our voices,
And make a caricature
Of our true and separate identities.