The Gatekeeper of Communication
A lot of what we can and can’t say is dictated by a social barrier. One of the most well-known social barriers plaguing men like myself is called “toxic masculinity.” Toxic masculinity represents all the negative impacts that the image of the traditional, stereotypical “ideal” male has inflicted on boys. The most well-known impact is silencing boys in conservation dealing with vulnerability as the word is associated with being weak and inferior. Personally, no one has ever told me that I couldn’t express myself emotionally. However, hearing things like how girls are usually the sensitive ones or watching the steady, calm-minded male lead in movies led me to feel like I shouldn’t. In a way, subconscious, I became conditioned by a social barrier that I didn’t even know existed until it was too late and I couldn’t sentimentally voice out the love I had for my family. Indeed, the best I could do was stutter an awkward “good morning” while avoiding eye contact. What I wanted to communicate felt like it was being denied access by gatekeepers from leaving my mouth.
What made the communication method of writing irreplaceable to me was because of one small assignment. I was assigned in English class to write a personal letter of gratitude to a loved one who I felt impacted my life the most. Thinking and writing about who and what I was grateful for was easy. There was no hesitation, even while handing that letter in person and watching the person read it. The only indication part was when I had to present it to the class. Constant stuttering with a suffocating feeling in my heart and stomach, making me feel weak. I couldn’t talk to anybody afterward cause I would consciously think about whether people were looking down on me or not. Despite being aware of how illogical my thoughts were, I still felt regret. Although the social barrier is a societal problem, it became personal when it denied access from me being comfortable with my own voice that connected me to others. So, when realizing that writing was my only way of communicating such emotional intent, it became irreplaceable. In the end, I understood how wrong I was to assume that all communication methods were just a weaker version of speaking.
There is no advancement in technology that could help one overcome social barriers as their human-made abstracts. There is no physical manifestation or well-defined understanding of the social barrier as it is continually changing, out of any individual’s control. So how can someone like myself find the ability to express my vulnerableness if technology couldn’t? Like how I could communicate my vulnerability towards others with a block mouth, I used writing, or more specifically, journaling.
If I couldn’t say anything, then I would just write it down and delete it afterward. I didn’t save any of it as they were purely used for venting because, to me, the journal was for personal relief. As journaling is a common method used to help people manage stress, cope with depression, and deal with overwhelming emotions by themselves, I didn’t feel uncomfortable being vulnerable, rather liberated for being able to write what I wanted. There was no way I would be able to spew any of what I wrote out of my mouth. Writing became the only communication method capable of avoiding getting denied by the social barrier of toxic masculinity that plagued my mind. A social, and at the same time, personal reason that made writing unique to me. I learned that what makes every other communication method irreplaceable is the power and reasoning we, as individuals, give behind it.
“Journaling for Mental Health.” Journaling for Mental Health — Health Encyclopedia — University of Rochester Medical Center, www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552&ContentTypeID=1#:~:text=It's%20simply%20writing%20down%20your,and%20improve%20your%20mental%20health.