You could hear it coming…a pause that lasted a little too long. The turn away from the microphone. Then, when she turned back, the tell tale crack in her voice. Tears.
The people around me became visibly and audibly uncomfortable. Squirming in chairs. A woman a few feet away recoiled, mumbling “oh no, oh don’t” under her breath. Crying isn’t allowed.
What is it about crying that gets people upset? Why is it wrong to do it in public? In a speech, ok, blubbering tears may make you harder to understand, but still. Why is that strong emotion supposed to be kept inside, kept out of sight?
For me, crying isn’t unusual. I cry when I’m happy. I cry when I’m touched by something. I cry when I’m overwhelmed or upset. And of course, I cry when I’m sad. I cry at commercials, photos, memories, songs, all kinds of stuff.
Sometimes people say crying is a sign of femininity and, therefore, weakness. I disagree and this is sexist, People’s discomfort with emotion is the real pathology. Humans are feeling beings. I am sure we all know examples of people who keep all their emotions bottled up. Sometimes those people are cold. Sometimes they wait and explode.
So I say, let the tears come. Keep talking as you weep. There are beautiful and tragic things in this world and it is ok to react to them, respond to them, and let people see us resonating deeply with this mixed-up universe.
Feeling isn’t weakness.