Shawn Maxam admits he does get scared from time to time.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
Fear is one of those emotions that I have never heard my dad acknowledge. For a long time I assumed men didn’t feel fear. Eventually, I realized that of course men feel fear. We are human beings after all. My next struggle was actually saying the words “I am afraid” out loud. Being scared is somehow thought to be incompatible with masculinity. This is utter bullsh*t. Yet I bought into this belief for a long time. Next week I am starting graduate school. To be honest I am really afraid. Not just nervous or anxious but afraid. It feels empowering to say this. But I think more importantly is my willingness to share my feelings of fear with my friends and family. Men are taught to only share emotions like anger and happiness. To disprove the myth that men don’t experience the spectrum of emotions I decided I had to open about my feelings. The following is a email I shared with all the people in my personal life.
Hello friends, relatives and colleagues:
I just want to send out a message about the upcoming two years of my life but most importantly the next few months. As you all know after a five year hiatus I am returning to graduate school next week. To be honest I am afraid. Not because I don’t think I can’t handle the rigors of school but because this is the first major undertaking since my diagnosis with bipolar disorder.
I know my illness will be both a blessing and a curse during this process but there is still a ton of stigma in the world. The compassion and understanding you all have given me over the last five years probably won’t be afforded me in the academic environment and professional world. There is an immense amount of pressure I feel to succeed but I still have to remain healthy so I want to ask a huge favor of you.
Please forgive me if it seems like I’m absent from your life for the next few years. Beside going to school twice a week and doing my internship twice a week. I have to see my therapist bi-weekly, my new psychiatrist monthly and still be present husband to my new wife Kijan. I say all this to say I will be very busy. Busier than I have ever been in over half a decade.
Since I am only human I know I will neglect other responsibilities and people in my life. So if you call me, email me or text me and I don’t return the contact promptly please forgive. If I don’t show up to an event you have planned or I forget to wish you a birthday please forgive me. If I break a promise or forget to fulfill a favor please forgive me.
I know I will be overwhelmed in the upcoming months. I know we all are busy and some of us are better at managing our time and multiple responsibilities. But I have a disability that puts me in the hospital if I am not careful. So I just want be open about this struggle beforehand.
I use to feel like I lost five years of my life but now I know it just took me five years for me to learn how to live healthy. I love you all very deeply and you mean a lot to me. So just give me the benefit of the doubt and I apologize for the future disappointments I will cause you. Be well, wish me luck and speak soon.
Thanks for your understanding and support.
Please share this with friends, enemies and temporary allies alike.
Thanks for reading, sharing and commenting!
Flickr image By Vincepal