Nadal's tearful goodbye to Federer was such a pure display of emotion that you can’t help but tear up too

We don’t get to see men do it that often

By Delna Mistry Anand

Published: Thu 6 Oct 2022, 11:13 PM

I still can’t get over the viral image of tennis legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal crying at the former’s retirement tournament. Can you? It was such a flow of pure love and emotion that you can’t help but tear up too. There’s something so sweet and endearing about people showing their real emotions, being so unfiltered and vulnerable with a hearty cry. And we don’t get to see men do it that often.

As a global society, we have asked men to put a lid on their tears. ‘Boys don’t cry’, ‘Be a man’, and other such toxic words have brainwashed our little boys into believing that they always need to be the strong ones, the tough ones. They have been taught not to show emotional vulnerability, dependency, insecurity and heaven forbid, anything that’s considered to be remotely feminine.

Patriarchy hurts everyone. But, at times, it’s easy to forget how the weight of masculine bravado and of a culture that prides stoic and (sometimes) reckless behaviour affects men. It was heart-breaking for me to read in a certain prominent public person’s biography, that he was an extremely sensitive, introverted and a shy young boy. But since that was not considered ‘man enough’, he was put into the most rigorous boarding school to toughen him up. He returned mid-way, traumatised, scarred, and all his self-esteem had depleted.

A softer male with a strong female support system (sister, partner, wife) isn’t considered the best role model either. So eventually, no one wins. These gender stereotypes don’t help anyone. They’ve done enough damage to women, and now we’re opening up to see its damage to men. In fact, it is because of these stigmas that men have learnt to downplay their emotions, and subsequently mental health symptoms. Research from around the world shows that men are less likely than women to be diagnosed with common mental health disorders. They don’t acknowledge what they’re going through, and are reluctant to seek help. And yet, nearly four times the number of men, as compared to women, die by suicide.

Mental health conditions don’t discriminate. People of all genders can experience depression, anxiety, insecurity and loneliness. We have enough to divide us; maybe our vulnerability can unite us.

Being emotionally sensitive is about being aware of your own feelings as well as the feelings of others. Emotional vulnerability is a valuable quality and an important part of building rapport and relationships. However, sensitive people must remember to love and honour themselves first — and come from a place of self-awareness and compassion. You must learn to draw boundaries in your relationships — even with the closest ones. And never be afraid to show the world who you truly are. Perhaps, that’s just what the world needs right now.

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