The following is a personal philosophy I have adopted about life.
- Always dress well.
- Golf is one of the only sports where polos and dress pants are a norm. Only in golf do get rewarded with a jacket as a trophy. Some people may argue that such attire has no impact on play. Those people would be wrong or Rickie Fowler
- In life, dressing for success is more than just something for business meetings. How you dress is a mentality. When you put effort into your appearance, whatever it may be, you feel confident.
- Golf should never have a peak.
- Unlike other sports where players can be in their prime for only a short part of their life, golf is a sport you can play for your whole life. Don’t believe me here is the legend Jack Nicklaus at 75 still killing the game.
- When we focus on our peaks in life we see past success and compare it to our current situation. When I got to college nothing I did in high school mattered. Those achievements got me in the door and that was all. Now a college graduate, my college accomplishments don’t mean anything either. No one cares about which tier my fraternity was in or how we did in intramurals. When you graduate you can choose to have high school/college be the peak for the rest of your life or focus on your next summit.
- A far drive off the tee-box doesn’t mean a birdie
- Some golfers care too much about their drive. Go to any driving range and you will see 90% of the people there straining their backs with the newest possible driver, swinging for the fences. Meanwhile hardly any person is seen at the chipping green. Short game isn’t sexy, but it is what makes you a great golfer. Anyone who has seen the master of short game Phil Mickelson knows this to be the case.
- In life we spend too much time on what makes us look cool rather than what actually gives our lives substance. This can be illustrated by the guys who go to the gym every day to maintain that unrealistic “perfect” physique, while ignoring the growth in other areas of life. He often doesn’t study. He repeatedly neglects his responsibilities. He doesn’t aim to be promoted at his job. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger is a relentless business man who grows his brand outside of just working out. Live a well-rounded life.
- You’re going to play horrible some rounds
- In golf you will play bad. You will get a snowman on a hole. Even the best have an atrocious hole now and then. Take this Jordan Spieth meltdown for example
- Much like one bad shot can lead to another and another; bad days tend to compound themselves. This is going to happen in life. Whole months may pass where you forget what a good day feels like. Simple aspects of life like getting out of bed become a chore. But with each new day, is a new round and has the potential for the best day of your life.
- If your golf game needs help talk to someone
- When you are playing at your worst and nothing seems to be changing, it comes the time to talk to an expert. Take Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, and Ernie Els who have all asked for help from golf guru Butch Harmon. Even if a golfer isn’t at his worst he always has a confidant in his caddy; someone to talk to about what he is thinking and help him out.
- In life when things are going tough we often think we have to go it alone. When sadness hits us we tend to tell no one, just hoping that it will work itself out, but sometimes it doesn’t. This can provide a perfect opportunity to slip into a deeper depression. Life isn’t easy, but there are trained professionals who can always help.
- No one is as good as they say they are.
- If you have ever sat in the club house after a round of golf you will hear countless stories of amazing achievements deserving of ESPN top ten highlights. “It was raining sideways and I hit my ball out of the rough around three trees, over a lake, and past 3 sand traps to land 2 inches from the hole. True Story.”
- In life this is the equivalent of Facebook, Instagram, and snapchat. On social media we post only the great things in our lives. We see the wedding engagements but never the failed relationships. We see the smiling faces scroll across our feed and never the frowns. When we start to compare our lives to the perfectly-crafted personas we see on social media we stop striving to live our own lives.
- Every round of golf is against yourself.
- At the end of the day golf is a thrilling sport because you are always playing yourself. With each round, you are competing against your own handicap. Any great golfer will tell you that you should never look at the leader board. The moment you start playing based on someone else’s score is when you start to play your worst.
- With social media being inescapable it can be easy to get caught up in the success of those around us. We start to live life for the approval of others. Achievements no longer have meaning unless they get 100 likes. I used to have elaborate snap chat stories of my adventures in college until one day I realized that by being fixated on someone else’s impression of my personal experience I was actually missing out on my story. Put down your phones and enjoy the ride.
Finally, open your eyes, it’s a great day for a round of golf. And even if it isn’t, there’s always tomorrow.
Will Maher, Field Executive
This is the Part II of a three-part series on Music, Mental Health, and Masculinity. Be sure to check back to read parts I and III.
When I was about 14 I had a conversation with my uncle, who makes a living playing music. He asked what I listened to these days, and I told him Metal and Hardcore. Quickly, my uncle asked about a few bands, to which I replied “No I don’t like those emo bands.”
Uncle: What’s wrong with Emo bands?
Me: They just complain and are annoying.
Uncle: Isn’t Emo short for emotional?
Me: Yeah I think so…?
Uncle: Isn’t Metal and hardcore emotional?
Me: Well yeah, but it’s different…
Uncle: I don’t know; it sounds like you listen to Emo music.
I was struck by this and halfheartedly admitted to myself that he had a valid point. Of course, I shrugged it off in the moment to defend my view; citing the musicianship and lyrical content of Emo music as supporting factors in my disregard for the genre.
Where did the disregard for an entire scene of music come from? It came from my view of masculinity through the lens of a teenager.
After my going to my first concert in 7th grade (Slipknot, Lamb of God, Shadows Fall, and Trivium), my friends and I became obsessed with heavier music. The energy and passion we witnessed at the show was unlike anything we had experienced. Enormous mosh pits, screaming along to songs, head banging, fans jumping fences to get into the pit, shoes being lit on fire and thrown; it was an adrenaline fueled sea of chaos and we loved it. Perhaps if it was any other concert, we would have been set down a different path, but that day our choice had been made. We wanted more.
Naturally, we turned to YouTube to watch other Metal concerts to discover new bands. I couldn’t say when, but it got to a point where what we were listening to “wasn’t heavy enough.” We were building a tolerance for Metal and needed something stronger.
Soon we were discovering bands like The Black Dahlia Murder, Animosity, Despised Icon, Carnifex, Through The Eyes of the Dead, The Red Chord, and the list goes on. It almost became some unwritten law that if the band did any clean vocals (singing) they sucked, and Emo bands being at the forefront of this “suckage.”
We could literally pull up a band’s page and write them off simply from the 3 genre descriptions that were listed. I had come to understand and buy into the idea that listening to Emo music somehow made you weaker, or a lesser fan. I would see shirts at concerts that said “Defend Metal, Kill Emo Kids”. Metal, right?
The irony was most Metal bands preached the same kind of acceptance and understanding their Emo contemporaries did, just in a different way. It was all a means to the same end. An outlet to seek refuge from life’s turmoil, and your own insecurities. I didn’t realize it, but I was using heavy music to escape from my issues while feeling safe behind a veil of masculinity.
I love Death Metal. I still listen to it every day. I’m actually listening to Whitechapel right now. My point however is that it was easier to wear the patch of Metal with confidence, because I felt protected by what I considered to be its inherit “toughness”. I knew Emo music was the butt of many jokes, simply because they were outwardly emotional and vulnerable about very real subjects, but unfortunately, I fed into that.
Believe it or not, Metal, is equally open and emotional on similar subjects, but people have this hesitation and fear of the genre, and for whatever reason, I loved being a part of that. I felt stronger, more protected and more of a man because of the music I listened to. It was a vicious cycle, fueling both my affinity for Metal and disdain for Emo music.
During my fall into the Death Metal abyss, I caught wind of bands like Stick to Your Guns, The Ghost Inside, Have Heart, and Guns Up. These groups embodied more of Hardcore style of punk mixed with some Metal motifs and an attitude reminiscent of the PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) punk bands from the 1980’s. Not only did they preach an understanding of mental and emotional issues, but they addressed a wide range of topics like drug and alcohol abuse, racism, sexism, masculinity, and family struggles.
These bands had a defining role in my life. They helped me shatter my ignorance towards music, myself, and my identity. They question the stereotype of what it meant to be a man and opened my eyes to the fact that what you wear, what you look like, who you know, and what music you listen to has nothing to do with your ability to be a good person. I found a strength in this. I found acceptance. It wasn’t just an acceptance of the music I had previously written off, but it was an acceptance of myself, my problems, and who I was. It was an acceptance of it being okay to cry, scream, and hate the world. With them, it was okay not to ALWAYS be okay and they worked to offer solutions through their music, to light a path towards getting through these problems.
Sacred Purpose does the same thing for me. Living my life through our shared sacred purpose lets me know my brothers are there, just like music, to help me through. Shattering the idea of what it means to be a man and what it means to hold myself and others accountable is something I didn’t think music could do. Re-framing masculinity and mental health, as a ton of our chapters are doing is a good thing, and is a conversation worth having. I am proud to be a member of an organization that values health and safety just as much as it values brotherhood.
“A poor man’s poor sport we’ve fallen short of reasoning/Sex does not determine capability /But we let our hostility be our guide to decide /What’s right for a girl and for a guy/Because every sex is just as able to keep this foundation stable /Enough is enough speak up its tough but don’t think that your unable/Let acceptance be our key to unlock our integrity /From there we’ll be able to see that there’s more than just she and he”— “A Poor Man’s Poor Sport” by Stick to Your Guns
Kris Taibl, Director of Communications
When I think of life’s challenges a quote by author Seth Godin often pops up in my brain; “If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” Constantly confronted with moments and choices that can lead us toward different paths, decisions have to be made. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s life has been no different.
Before his Pulitzer Prize winning musical Hamilton: An American Musical became the darling of today’s new Broadway he was an artist teaching high school English during the day and writing in the evening. At this point in his life, he had graduated college but knew he was destined for something bigger than what he had. He put his passion and name on the line and shopped his musical In The Heights to Broadway producers for years. After being turned down time and time again, the moment he sought after seemed so far out of reach.
Miranda told a story of this time in his life during a commencement speech at the University of Pennsylvania a few days ago and it resonated with me and I hope it will with you. He was at a meeting, accompanied by his co-author of Heights, with a big-deal theatre producer. The producer wanted to back his show… with a few changes. “This doesn’t feel ‘high-stakes’ enough for this character. Let’s change it.” Those words from the producer echoed in Miranda’s head and he had a decision to make. He had poured his blood, sweat and tears into Heights (literally, he has said “if you cry when you hear my lyrics it’s because I cried writing them. It’s all a part of the recipe.”) Miranda was scared to say no to the status quo. Miranda was scared his dream of getting his show up off the page and onto a stage was in jeopardy if he did not submit. His legacy was on the line.
Miranda felt like the stakes were high enough. Convicted in this, he and his co-author decided to pass on the offer. Many years and rewrites later, Heights was produced with the stakes for the character remaining the same. The show went on to win the Tony for Best Musical of the Year. Unrelenting, he challenged the established culture of Broadway and won out.
This win paved the way for Hamilton to become a reality. In contrast with most shows on Broadway, “[Hamilton is the] first authentic hip-hop show” according to Questlove, who produced the cast album. A musical about “the ten-dollar founding father/without a father” is a story about “America then told by American’s now.” according to Miranda.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s experience in his life and in his writing has more in common with our Sacred Purpose than you might think.
When Theta Chi launched Sacred Purpose in the spring of 2013, it was the culmination of hard work from brothers across North America. Sacrifices were made to ensure we would not compromise our own values to support the status quo. Our brothers needed guidance on how to talk about sexual assault, drugs, alcohol abuse, hazing and other hard-hitting issues. A few individuals volunteered to stand up and lead in the creation of Sacred Purpose and like Lin-Manuel Miranda, did not submit.
Our Sacred Purpose is unique to Greek life. Our Sacred Purpose takes courage to implement and time to develop. Our Sacred Purpose is challenging the idea of “Fraternity Culture”. Our Sacred Purpose is award winning. When brothers are elected into the office of Vice President of Health and Safety, they have to let Hamilton’s lines reverberate in their minds. “Just like my country/I’m young scrappy and hungry/and I’m not throwing away my shot.”
Hamilton “got a lot farther/by working a lot harder/by being a lot smarter/by being a self-starter.”
Our Sacred Purpose is the story of our founders then, lived by us now. Hamilton encourages us to work not for the moment, but for the movement; to think about how our lives can impact the world.
“We all relate to Hamilton. We all want to leave our mark. We all want to be fearless. It’s only a matter of time.”- Nicole Nadler, Contributor to the Daily Dot and fan of Hamilton
This is the Part I of a three-part series on Music, Mental Health, and Masculinity. Be sure to check back to read parts II and III.
The Center for Addiction and Mental Health released a study which shows 70% of mental health problems have their onset during adolescence. While the true realization of my own depression and anxiety came pretty late into my adolescence, I exhibited symptoms (which went unchecked) from as early as 14.
When I was younger, toxic relationships, break-ups, unrequited love, familial pressure, and the deaths of close friends and family all took their toll on my developing brain. During this time a genre of music crept into daily listening and I was in complete and absolute wonderment. Lyrics that spoke about being scared, not knowing who you are, being dumped, feeling directionless, absolute despair, love, hate, and so many things in between became the soundtrack to my life.
I’ve been listening to a lot of that music lately. Daily plays on my Apple Music are filled with artists and lyrics that resonated with me as a teenager but not necessarily with me today. This has brought to light some really interesting revelations about who I was back then and how I became the person I am today. The music carries memories of heartbreak, not fitting in, depression, social anxiety, frustration; all of which, the anxious person in me would like to push back down as far as possible and keep moving forward, but that is not who I am anymore.
Emo (short for emotional) music is described as a style of post-hardcore music characterized by expressive, often confessional, lyrics. Having roots in the hardcore-punk rock scene of Washington D.C. as far back as the 1980’s, emo musings have been a part of our musical zeitgeist for quite some time, even if we didn’t know it.
This type of music gave life to my thoughts and resonated with me in ways I wasn’t really sure how to express back then. Going to shows, perusing Tumblr, and deep diving into my own thoughts became outlets for me. Driving around in circles with my iPod on shuffle, thinking/singing/screaming, gave me a release. I was able to connect with artist on a level I never knew possible. Lyrics seemed to be ripped out of the headlines of my life and were there for me to ingest and unpack.
I was your stereotypical emo kid. I wore black band t-shirts, high top Chuck Taylors with socio-political messages sharpied on the soles, and a studded belt from time to time. My hair was long in the front and swept to the side with one year, a chunk of it dyed blonde because I was feeling adventurous. I fit into a mold, along with thousands of other kids, when I thought there wasn’t one. A community came out of this genre of music but something much bigger was burgeoning.
Bands like Taking Back Sunday, Bright Eyes, Saves The Day, Brand New, Alkaline Trio and My Chemical Romance all shed light on the dark that some days consumed my thoughts. Songs like “Freakish” by Saves The Day exacerbated my heartbreak after being dumped. “Radio” by Alkaline Trio allowed for catharsis after a more insidious break-up. “There’s No I in Team” by Taking Back Sunday was the anthem I latched onto when a friendship crumbled. “Guernica” by Brand New helped me navigate my own emotions when a family member lost his battle to cancer. “Sonny” by New Found Glory helped the tears flow when they really needed to after tragically losing a friend in a car accident.
I have come to the realization it was the music is that got me to a place where I could feel comfortable and could treat my wounds, visible or not. That is the terrible thing about the shame surrounding mental illness. Walk up to your friends with a puncture wound and they can see it; its tangible. You can’t do the same with mental illness. You feel things, often horrible things, but outwardly there are no puncture wounds to show.
Emo music was often dismissed by mainstream critics and their sub-genre peer groups because of its distinct connection with mental health. During a time of great stigma towards mental health in general, this genre did more for encouraging awareness and empathy towards mental health among young people than any other genre.
In 2011, Dr. Rosemary L. Hill challenged the discourse of mental illness around emo music. “fans discuss the music…enabling them to cope with pre-existing depressions, to overcome bullying and even to save their lives.” Hill writes. “I think emo probably has helped make talking about mental ill health easier for some groups.” “There has been a broader shift towards more openness and less stigma over the last few years.” She says, “bands like My Chemical Romance definitely helped some fans negotiate their mental ill health…their lyrical messages were about living and learning to live with mental ill health, to find ways to cope and gain support.”
I used music as a means to cope with feelings I didn’t fully understand and for that I am thankful for my time as an emo kid. Emo music, while a sub-genre of a sub-genre which can be traced back to American Punk Rock, pushed lyrics about mental health and mental illness to the forefront and allowed an entire generation of music listeners to take a look in the mirror and really confront their feelings. Looking back now, music was my treatment before psychotherapy became my therapy.
My musical tastes have changed since then, but the words and melodies still ignite feelings within me every time I hear them. Being 10 plus years removed from the “scene” I can still remember every word and every place I was when I first heard a particular song. Something I find encouraging is how this genre ushered in the idea of wearing your heart on your sleeve and how it’s okay to not feel okay. I listen to music now that resonates with where I am as an adult but you can catch me in my car shouting at the top of my lungs songs lamenting my teenage angst but fully understanding now why I gravitated toward it in the first place.
“We understand, little by little, that the more time we give ourselves we do have the power to control what we’re thinking and when I’m the lowest I’ve ever felt I know that I can put on music and wait through that hell. I know I’m going to feel different, if not the next day then the day after that.”- Bert McCracken, The Used