Learning What It Means to Be a Man
Movember is an event that promotes awareness for testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and men’s mental health. This fictional story centers around the mental health aspect. The protagonist is an 18-year-old who discusses the importance of being vulnerable, breaking mental health stigma, and shattering male stereotypes.
Trigger warning: This story covers domestic abuse and might be too graphic for some readers.
If you could have your dream job, what would it be?
I read that question at least twenty times, tapping my pen in time with every tick of the clock. As I looked around the room, half of the students were conversing with their friends; the other half were either writing five-page essays or strangling their minds trying to answer the question.
Come on, Sam! Just choose something! my mind demanded.
I don’t know why it took so long for me to come up with an answer. I had interests and talents…at one point. I cracked people up without even trying. For the longest time, I would have said I wanted to be a comedian. I would have said it with pride and confidence! But now, I was ashamed of my aspiration. Hell, I was ashamed of myself.
I knew how other people would respond to the essay question. Bobby would say he wanted to be a doctor. Kim would respond with a movie producer. Alex would pick a writing career. Susan would easily choose to be an artist. And they would all achieve their dreams!
Once upon a time, I was psyched at the thought of becoming a comedian! I envisioned it as part of the future. But over the last month, three months away from high school graduation, my dream seemed more and more…stupid and pointless.
“Sam. Sam!” Mr. Brice exclaimed.
“Your time to shine!”
Snickering from students behind me burned my ears. Faces around me blurred, and I felt like I wasn’t actually there. My mind was as blank as the page in front of me. This wasn’t like me at all! I didn’t even have any good one-liners to hide the embarrassment of not knowing how to answer one damn question!