Shakti perspectives: Mashood (Emkew)
Hi, my name is Mashood. I’m an emcee, most people know me as Emkew. I was born in Pakistan, but I call Naarm/Melbourne home.
I believe we’re raised to perceive a strength/weakness dichotomy when it comes to manhood. Be it through a cultural, religious, or family traditional lens, the notion of the man as the rock of the family, the provider, and the pillar on which a family’s survival rests, is a fixed one in our minds. When we feel vulnerable and exhausted, it challenges this notion and so we shut down to avoid failing that perceived archetype. I also believe the impact can be compounded in the diaspora community because we’re exposed to so much more knowledge and understanding about mental health, but still bound by similar notions of what it means to be a man – creating a further rift between how we feel vs. how we think we’re expected to be.
Music provides an outlet for me to express. I grew up holding in emotions, and I’m finding it pouring out of me on to the page nowadays. By expressing the ideas and emotions moving around me, I can make sense of and move past them. Even listening to music can inspire mood changes, listening to an album or continuous mix can allow me the time to explore a particular feeling, moving it along. Getting to share my expressions with others also helps to feel understood, seen, and heard.
One tip: Practice saying how you’re feeling out loud, even if it’s just to yourself. We get really good at saying ‘I’m good, how are you?’ to avoid how we’re feeling. Hearing it makes it real, and we allow ourselves to truly understand that feeling. It validates the part of us having the feeling, and that can take the edge off.
I recently went through a rough patch. I was unmotivated, engaging in negative self-talk, and withdrawing from my friends. The first step was calling it out, knowing that I’m in a state I’d rather not be in. “I’m sad, and I’ve been sad for a while now”, I said. “That’s okay, because I won’t be sad forever”, I added. I took time to write and say what was making me sad. I texted friends saying, “Hey I really need to talk with you, do you have time?” When they called, I couldn’t dance around the question. I reached out, and I practiced self-care. Most importantly, I waited. I had the patience to appreciate that this feeling was temporary, but necessary to heal from recent difficulties.
My self-care looks like chucking on my happy music playlist when I’m home alone/in the car and singing and dancing along to it. I also really love taking a bath. I don’t do it often, but it feels nice. I think conversations like this are an important step for our community. I understood the value of it from reading and hearing similar perspectives. Ask your friends how they’re *feeling* not just how they’re *doing*. Be okay with ‘not okay’ as an answer, from yourself and others. I think these conversations also need to be had with parents.
And remember...This too shall pass