In this interview, Shea Emry, a Professional Football Player, talks about redefining manliness and overcoming hardship.
Relationship status: Engaged to Devon Brooks
You’ve had a history filled with a lot of hardship, how did life change for the better?
When I was younger I was subject to extreme bullying, it created a mindset personally where I was always questioning my self worth, my looks and lacked confidence. I was depressed and in search for my self worth, I escaped by using drugs, alcohol and women.
Then when I was 25 my mother opened up about some of the serious health issues she had been facing her entire life. This sort of conversation was all new to me, as our family never discussed deep issues. This is when I had an epiphany. I realized how much my parents went through in order simply to give me an existence, and it was time I honoured that.
I made a decision to be a better person. I stepped up and redefined my manliness. I wanted to give back to the community who gave me so much. My life started to change from there.
What is love to you?
Its malleable, it can bend, it can go through a lot of strife and come out even stronger than what it was before. If you’re going through a difficult time, it is something that can carry you through because you know you are loved and that there is someone for you to give that love back to.
What makes your relationship work?
We have the openness and communication that is conducive to success. Since the beginning, we put everything on the table, We don’t hold anything back or hide anything from each other. I knew that if I was going to be in a healthy relationship, I had to be 100% me – history, baggage, quirks and issues included. I had to let her love me for me, all of me, and not worry about putting my best foot forward. Is this modern ‘manliness’? I think so.
A lot of men find it difficult to talk about feelings openly. Any advice?
Don’t be afraid to be open. There is strength in the vulnerability of that. Manliness is talking about your feelings that won’t make you look weak. It will strengthen the bond with your partner, and in turn, the connection to your soul.
How do you do it?
I give all the credit to her. I have a lot of habits that other men have. But I have such a strong woman in my life, and she asks me the right questions to help me open up. For example, it’s common for her to ask, “What does that actually mean? What are you trying to say?” Her questions make me pause, reflect and find a way to articulate what’s really going on. Our arguments are really more like fireside chats.
In professional sports, there are always women and temptation around. How do you handle that?
It’s not difficult, as I don’t put myself in a position to have that temptation. I have this great woman that I feel doesn’t compare to any other woman I’ve ever met in my life. It would be a waste of time to even entertain such ideas. Devon and I have a strong bond that has been cultivated from openness and honesty, getting into a situation that would jeopardize that trust is not worth it.
Do you believe in ‘the one’?
Yes. I had a strong faith that when I met the woman I was going to marry, I would know. I didn’t know when it would happen, but I knew it would happen. But this doesn’t happen for everyone. You need to know yourself enough to recognize when that person walks into your life. If you don’t know yourself enough, that person might be right in front of you and you wouldn’t notice.
What advice do you have singles out there?
Don’t try to be someone you’re not to pick up a girl you think that you want. You’re presenting them with someone who is not you. The act can only last so long. I don’t believe in putting your ‘best foot forward’, I believe in putting your authentic self forward, That way, you filter out the ones that aren’t the right fit, and eventually attract the person who will accept you and love you for who you really are.
What do you love about Devon the most?
She is someone that inspires people purely from the energy she radiates. It’s contagious. It’s positive. It’s real.
What would you tell your younger self?
Recognize when you’re not happy in the relationship, and when you conclude you are not with the right person, move forward and don’t feel bad about it. Instead of dragging it out, honor the fact that the person has a life to live and a love that’s waiting for them. This is true ‘manliness’.
Any last words of wisdom?
You wont find your soul mate until you know what your own soul looks like. And when you think you’ve met that person, don’t let the fear of having your heart/ego hurt prevent you from loving fully. Even if you get your heart broken, at least you’ll know you tried with the best of intent and you gave it your fullest. Take a risk.
Photo by: Melika Dez