101 Days, 101 Strangers, 101 Stories: Day 77

Today, I was studying at a café on campus. I got up from my seat momentarily to use the washroom, and when I came back to my table, the man sitting at the table next to me said to me, “I guarded your stuff for you.” I laughed and thanked him, remarking, albeit sarcastically, that if it weren’t for him, my stuff would have certainly been stolen.

He explained that he’d been debating what to say upon my return: either that he’d hacked my computer while I was gone, or that he’d guarded my things. He was stumped on which would make me laugh more.

I laughed anyways and then introduced myself. And then, of course, I explained my project to him. He just had to be my stranger of the day.

“I just walked into your trap, didn’t I?”

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His name is Jesse. He just graduated from UBC’s graduate clinical psychology program. He studied philosophy in his undergraduate years.

His advice? “Be honest to your emotions. Don’t be afraid to say what you’re feeling.” He explained that a lot of the time, when we feel angry or upset, we tend to keep these emotions to ourselves. Sometimes, we do this to prevent conflict. Other times, we convince ourselves that our emotions are something we need to deal with independently, on our own. Jesse used to be this way, too. But in recent years he’s been dealing with his emotions a little differently — expressing his frustrations and feelings when he feels them, and being transparent about himself– vulnerable, even — with the people in his life. This is part of what drew him toward clinical psychology in the first place.

He advised that women in particular should feel more comfortable expressing their anger, and that men should feel more comfortable saying they’re afraid. We’ve done a good job of socializing a portrayal of masculinity that embodies an absence of fear and pain. But men, of course, feel these emotions too, and should aim to try to feel more at ease in expressing it.

While on the topic of gender norms, Jesse also told me that he identifies as a feminist. He explained that being a feminist doesn’t just mean standing up for women — it means standing up for everyone. Because everyone is better off when women are treated with the respect and equality they deserve. I’m glad he acknowledged this and I’m happy to have learned a little bit more about Jesse’s story.

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