Meet Michael, our graphic designer and all round legend of bloke. Over the coming months Michael will hit the streets or jump on the phone speaking with blokes from all walks of life, exploring the importance and values of mateship. Michael saw a real need to reach out and share the stories of other men encouraging the broader male community to break down stereotypes, speaking up about how they feel and what one another mateship means to them. So here is it the first of many conversations Michael will be having.
Over to Michael.
HERE’S IS MY FIRST COFFEE CONVERSATION.
Tucked away in a cafe in Parramatta, the heart of Sydney’s western suburbs, I await the arrival of John and Kyle, cousins and life-long best mates. Their lives have always been intertwined, both were born in the Philippines and spent much of their time youth in Australia only a few streets away from each other.
I don’t have to do much, these two love to talk, are extremely comfortable with one another and have no problems expressing how they feel. We order coffees and start talking. We speak about how they grew-up practically as brothers that always had each others back. They reflect upon their small disagreements and how they helped each other through the transition from being family-reliant teenagers into the arduous journey of adulthood. This was what really cemented their friendship and took it to the next level.
Kyle liked school and kept the momentum with his tertiary education. He enrolled at university and after his first year he felt drained and unenthusiastic. He didn’t know what to do, but he knew he wasn’t happy. As he had done many times before he turned to John for advice. John had gone through a similar situation and didn’t hesitate to help. They would grab coffees or just sit in their car for hours on end, just talking, that’s all they needed.
‘It’s harder for me to open up to other friends and it is easier to talk to you (John)’ Kyle says, they both look at each other and agree that they feel no judgment which is why they can open up to each other.
Just like anywhere, growing up in Western Sydney can have it’s challenges, especially when it comes to masculinity or revealing your emotions. In most parts the stigma and pressure to be a “tough guy” still exists but after sitting down with these two I doubt that stereotype is as rife as it used to be, and that it will be continue to be dismantled.
It is refreshing to talk to two young men who not only so comfortable in their own skins but are learning at a young age that they’re not alone and that life is a team effort.