Jason Rogers attended his first international fencing competition not long after his 8th-grade promotion. It was a turning point after which his calm, casual, and neatly packaged life at Brentwood transformed into one that required constant, chaotic schoolwork scribbling on planes, trains, and automobiles around the world. After graduating in '01, Jason attended The Ohio State University in pursuit of what had become his singular goal: the Olympics. It took two hard-fought years, but he managed to secure a spot at the 2004 Games in Athens, and then again at the 2008 Games in Beijing, where his team took home a silver medal.
Afterward, a period of euphoria ensued, but it was soon followed by feelings of sorrow and grief. He'd climbed to the top of Mt Olympus, virtually every athlete's dream, yet, he struggled to understand why he was so unhappy. The answer to that question took years to unravel, but he'd felt so much pressure to be a fierce competitor that he'd ignored, and later actively hid, all the anxieties that bubbled beneath. Finally, he began opening up to friends and family and seeking the professional help he needed. But he was left thinking about all the reasons that he felt the need to behave in such a macho manner in order to be respected by his peers.
Now, Jason writes about the evolving state of masculinity for Men's Health magazine and is a sought after thinker on the topic of what it means to be a man. When asked what advice he would give his former self, Rogers says,
I wish I could convey the life-changing importance of vulnerability. Many guys think it's a sign of weakness, however, it's actually the converse. Most of the time, others will think more of you when you reach out and ask for help.
You can sign up for The Mandate, Jason's popular newsletter about modern masculinity at mandateletter.substack.com.