Lately, there’s been a push against “toxic” masculinity, defined by traits including but not limited to sexism, aggression and social dominance.

Good. Let’s chuck all of these into the garbage.

Another long-standing and often-criticized feature is stoicism: men can’t be emotionally vulnerable. While I also despise this concept, I am also tired of the notion that this is just a man’s issue — it isn’t. 

Yes, it’s a terrible expectation for us, but other genders struggle to express their emotions, too. Between the 18th and 20th centuries, “female hysteria” was a widespread disorder on the basis of women having feelings; many people still think women are “too emotional” to be good leaders; and I’m sure that if you ask anyone who’s non-binary how their experience with self-expression has gone, they won’t rave about it.

I’m overjoyed that men are getting models for healthy masculinity more often. I’m overjoyed that men are beginning to address their own feelings. It’s a great first step. However, that awareness doesn’t allow you to excessively victimize yourself or be negligent with your emotions.

People don’t get to be vulnerable automatically just because they’re not men. No one gets to be vulnerable with everybody all the time. That’s not how the world works. As much as I want a culture that truly values and encourages emotional expression, we don’t live in one.

Thus, despite the obstacles, it is vital to create emotional support systems in our own little pockets of life. It’s more often modeled for women, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only ones who get to do it or that they’re even consistently encouraged to do it.

Here is some unsolicited and unlicensed advice.

Regardless of gender, you should channel your feelings in a way that works for you and those around you — find a variety of productive and sustainable outlets you can do with others and on your own. Take up a hobby, journal, pray or meditate, host a game night, cook, exercise, etc. 

Furthermore, find people who you can trust and reach out to if you need direct support, and note that you need direct support more often than you think. Although, I’ll warn of some pitfalls: Avoid trauma dumping, emotional manipulation to get more attention, or letting one person do all of your emotional labor for you.

Lastly, and I wish we were all trained to do this, check in on others. Ask people how they’re doing — how they’re really doing. It goes a long way.

I believe what men are trying to come to terms with is something that now affects us all. Men’s struggle with emotional repression is merely heightened by the rising popularity of another trait — one that society now tells us everyone should strive for: self-reliance.

Sportswriter Jon Bois describes “the rise of the individual in our culture: the idea of doing things collectively ebbed in favor of doing it all yourself — whether through the ’80s barrage of self-help books, the pull yourself up by your bootstraps lunacy of the ’90s, or the rise and grind bulls— of modern times.”

While one could argue that hyper-individualism is thrust on men especially, this rise of the individual affects everyone and is particularly harmful when it creeps into how we handle our emotions. Humans are social creatures — nobody can fully process their feelings on their own.

Man or not, our culture conditions us to isolate ourselves and never “burden” others with our innermost thoughts. Fight back. Find healthy ways to express your emotions, support other people and, most importantly, let them support you too.

Lukas is a senior writing major from Goshen. On campus, he sings in Vox Profundi and works as a technician for ITS. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cooking, cross stitching, playing board games and watching baseball and football (often at the same time). This semester for The Record, Lukas plans on trying way too hard to make people laugh.