Special Reports

Traumatic Experiences Add Pressure to University Life


Does a traumatic experience help one fit seamlessly into university culture? One Cardiff University graduate says no, but it did help him become a man.

"A man coping with a traumatic experience does not seamlessly fit into University culture," 22-year-old English Language graduate Stuart Fagg wrote in an article on The Huffington Post. "This is nothing against the typical guy at University, but there a lot of students who will do anything if the name of manhood."

Fagg shared his personal story of how a traumatic experience changed his view of masculinity. He said that after six months of "drinking, socialising and going out," he returned home from the university sick. He was suffering from non-Hodgkins lymphoma, HLH, and bouts with glandular fever. Returning to university seemed like a struggle for him.

"When I returned in my second year, time hadn't stopped for anyone else," Fagg wrote. "They were still lively, busy and full of energy but I was on the other end of chemotherapy... this felt like a premature return."

Thankfully, Fagg had some friends who were willing to listen to him share how he felt. These men, both at home and the university, were "incredibly understanding," and helped him cope with the pressures he was going through.

Many think of men as not being in touch with what they feel. Some think that a real man shouldn't even talk about what they feel. But for Fagg, talking about his emotions made him feel like a man, owning up to what he was going through.

"Talking about my problems has boosted my confidence to a level I never thought possible," he explained. "While I could freely talk about my experiences with my family and girlfriend, talking to the boys is a different phenomenon."

There's no single definition for masculinity, Fagg says, but he believes it manifests differently for every man. Experience, he believes, shapes a person's view about things, including masculinity. And for men to come together to help someone face illness, mental health issues and trauma, it just proves that they are real men - without the need to drink or go out every week.

Fagg wrote for The Huffington Post's project, "Building Modern Men," a campaign that highlights the issues that men face, while raising awareness about the problem of suicide.

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