The Mask I Live In

Nick Sherod '16

Nick Sherod ’16

The worst part about crying is after you’re done.

I remember it was a Thursday afternoon and my day was going terribly. I had a bunch of work due, I was having relationship problems and my aunt’s cancer was taking a toll on her. I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders and everything was crashing down.

I specifically waited until after everybody had eaten lunch to go into the cafeteria. I had been holding back tears all day but I couldn’t let anyone see me crack. I grabbed four slices of bread and some jelly and peanut butter for my two sandwiches and went to the back corner of the 2010 Cafe.

I set up my computer and turned it to a college basketball game so that I wouldn’t just sit in silence. As I spread my peanut butter on a slice of bread the bread started to tear and I guess all my frustrations were symbolized by that bread tearing and the waterworks started to flow. I was crying steadily for about five minutes as all the pain was just coming out.

As I continued to cry, I noticed that one of the cafeteria staff was cleaning up. As she got closer I did everything in my power to get myself together. I blew my nose, wiped up my tears and covered my face to try to act like everything was alright.

“You’re Nick Sherod, you’re 18 years old. You are supposed to be strong, you’re not supposed to cry, do not let anyone see you cry.”

I got up to turn the dishes in and I did everything in my power to seem normal. I knew something wasn’t right when I saw how the man washing dishes looked at me. I realized something wasn’t right again when I went to turn in some papers and the lady at the front desk did a double take when she looked me in the eyes.

I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. My eyes were the light red tint that usually show right after you’ve been crying. I felt really embarrassed because I had let everyone see my pain. That was not the appearance I wanted to give off; I couldn’t let anyone see any weakness.

Why did I have to hide? Why did I need to give off the impression of strength when I was weak?

Those were the main questions Joe Ehrmann attacked during his presentations at St. Christopher’s. Mr. Ehrmann tried to break down what masculinity and being a man really means. He believes that boys today feel like they need to hide their emotions and hide how they really feel for the sake of their “manhood.”

Journeys to Manhood

According to Mr. Ehrmann, masculinity is defined as the ability to love and be loved and someone who is trying to make a difference in the world, nothing of which has to do with how strong or fast you are.

In society today, boys feel like they are forced to hide how they really feel. Instead of showing pain or sadness, a lot of us will carry that with us and cover it up with a smile. Mr. Ehrmann really stressed that there is no need to cover up how we feel. The most important thing we can do is talk to each other and help each other feel better. A lot of us feel lonely, but if we can all be there for one another, we can avoid those feelings.

I really urge any boy who is hiding his emotions to find someone to talk to. Having emotions is perfectly fine and you don’t want to be like me and try to cover them up. Whether it be a parent, teacher or friend, there is always someone who cares about you.

Maybe then the best part of crying will be after you’ve finished, because someone will be there to help wipe your tears.

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  • Lisa Alphen says:

    Thank you

  • Sunny Goode says:

    Beautifully written Nick!

  • Remember: “They don’t care about how much you know, until they know you care”. r

  • Chase Thompson says:

    This is the kind of article only a REAL man could write. Thank you for sharing, Nick, and for leading other young men in the right direction with your words.

  • Susan Mitchell says:

    Your story has stuck with me for 24 hours now. It’s impressionable and insightful. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Don Golladay says:

    Nick, I am so happy you have learned this at such an early age. I did not learn this lesson until my mother died and I was 42 years old. You now know how to comfort others when their world seems to be falling apart. I am proud to know we have such strong young men in our midst at St. Christopher’s. Thanks for sharing.