Donovan McKenzie’s Story

HOAM Founder & Motivational Speaker

My story of resilience

I have conquered the darkness by revolutionizing what manhood means to me. Now, I want to share my message of hope with the world. I, like many of my brothers around me, am a survivor.  I have faced the adversity in a world that was screaming at me to filter my emotions and “man up”.  I overcame, I elevated who I was internally, and now I want to inspire hope.  If I can make the next man’s battle with mental health just a little easier than it was for me, I am happy to make that difference.  It starts by spreading the message that old beliefs that you once knew as truth are allowed to grow and change.

As cliché as it sounds, life really is like a rollercoaster. Sometimes it’s fun and exhilarating, leaving you on the most incredible high; and sometimes it’s scary and nauseating, leaving you with a sense of dread and your stomach has flipped so many times, you’re pretty sure it’s permanently out of place. We have good days where it feels like nothing can touch us, and we are on top of the world.  And, in God’s great balance, we have days that seem impossible to face.  Life is beautiful, but it can also be extremely difficult.

I am sure that you have all experienced, or are currently experiencing, some sort of adversity.  And, I hope that you know that you are not, and are never, alone in facing these struggles.  There is nothing worse than feeling like you have to overcome some form of trauma unaided.

I know, because I have been there, and I am a survivor.

Overcoming the Struggle

“When the world pushes you to your knees, you are in the perfect position to pray” 

- Rumi

Like most men, I was raised to believe it was not acceptable for a man to express his pain or fears. It was considered unmasculine to express any form of vulnerable emotions.  “Real men” were expected to act tough, strong, fearless, and confident.  It is that toxic masculinity that held me and millions of other men back from expressing their true selves.

As a teen, I worked hard to bury all of my negative feelings.  I became practised at hiding my emotions under the mask of being the athletic jock.  I was the man who always got the girls, slayed on the basketball court and looked like he had it all together. But, I learned the hard way that you cannot spend your whole life performing; it’s too exhausting, it’s unsustainable, it’s not fair. My facade fell apart when I was 21 – when the emotional pain refused to stay hidden. The show was over, and behind the scenes I spiraled into a deep depression.

Thankfully, I was able to receive the professional help that I needed.  I was able to overcome all of my conditioning, allow myself to be vulnerable, and admit that I was suffering.  I learned a lot during this time.  

I learned a lot about myself, and I prayed to God for resilience in finding a long-term solution to the pain.

I learned about empathy and discovered that I was not alone in my pain.

I learned a lot about society and how the stigma against male emotions is causing pain for me and all of my brothers.

Elevating to a Higher Purpose

Do not ask the Lord to guide your footsteps if you are not willing to move your feet” 

- Anonymous

Despite life’s countless twists and turns, I found a way to cope.  There are many things that helped me through including allowing myself to be vulnerable and believing that God had a purpose for me.  I renegotiated my relationship with life, and in doing so I found passion again.  That pain that almost destroyed me happened for a reason, and that is where I found purpose.

This toxic masculinity that is forcing men to suffer in silence is a poison born and perpetuated by a dated way of thinking.  The fact of the matter is, each and every one of us face adversity and we all handle it in our own unique ways.  And, while there is no magic cure for depression, we do know that suffering alone and unaided can only lead to things becoming desperate.

We live in a time where the line between feminine and masculine are no longer necessary.  As the women around us rise into a stronger version of themselves, it is time for men to allow themselves to share their emotions.  Men need to know that it is okay to be vulnerable, and I want to help spread that message.

Inspiring Others and Sharing the Message

“The awakened man has stepped away from living a life ruled by his mind and ego-self and is consciously connected to his heart.  He is not embarrassed to reveal his true colors.  He is redefining age-old beliefs of what a real man is, and by his example, calling other men to wipe the sleep from their eyes” 

– Daniel Nielsen

 All of these factors in life have lead me to the creation of Heart of a Man.  My dream is to live in a world where men no longer have to feel like they need to hide who they are and how they feel.  Our society needs to revolutionize what manhood means.  I want to reach as many people as possible and tell them that they do not need to suffer alone.  I needed a space where I, and other men, could be there for those who needed us.  

 Heart of a Man wants to establish the message of hope and conquer mental health one person at a time.

 We are a community where men can go to overcome their struggles.

We are a movement helping to elevate society past the stigma of male emotions.

We are men here to inspire other men.

 Overcome.  Elevate.  Inspire.