"I can't see 'em coming down my eyes, So I gotta make the song cry" - Jay-Z
For as long as I could remember, I am what you would call a Cry Baby. You know the kid on the playground whose eyes would easily swell up with tears for any reason. The kid who cried when they got a test back with a less than perfect score. The kid that would have tears streaming down her face if someone called her a name. Yep, that was me, I was that kid.
My mother told me that I had to toughen up. I had to stop with all of this crying. So I tried, I tried to control my tears. I tried to toughen up. I developed a snappy tongue and some quick wit to try to back people up before my tears could bust out. I got to the point where I would only cry around people that I was close to. You know, my parents, my besties, and my man. I could typically control my tears in most other areas - work, school, etc.
But sometimes, just sometimes, I couldn't. I remember the first time I cried in a semi work environment. I was mortified. I was with work colleagues, but we weren't actually at the office, and here I was crying because I was upset. I had been at the job for less than a month, and what a way to start. I just knew they would think I was weak and vulnerable. I feared that I gave up power. That I wouldn't be seen as a leader if I was always crying. I promised myself, that I would never cry at work again. One of my all time favorite shows in Shark Tank. Like I love that show. And Barbara Corcoran, real estate mogul, stated that "the minute a woman cries, you're giving away your power. You have to cry privately."And I believed her.
But in my personal relationships, I didn't hold back. I don't think there is a serious discussion that I have ever had with a boo that didn't somehow involve tears. I remember talking with a counselor who suggested that I had to stop with all the crying. He encouraged me not to cry in front of my husband because he would see it as weakness, manipulative, or worse lose respect for me. In that moment, I agreed with the counselor. So I tried, I tried to stop crying. When I would feel the tears welling up in my eyes, I would repeat in my head, don't cry, come on Kristian, hold it together, you can do this, don't cry, you aren't weak. And during all of this self-talk, I wouldn't hear a word that was coming out of my husband's mouth. I was so busy trying not to cry, trying not to do what came natural to me, that I was making it nearly impossible for us to communicate. And I suddenly realized that this was crazy. Something had to give.
I cry, but I am not weak. I cry AND I am powerful. I refuse to except that tears and power are mutually exclusive. Water dripping out of my eyes does not make me weak. It makes me passionate. It makes me empathetic. It makes me, me. And as I walk down this journey of self-discovery, I have decided to shift this story. I will not be ashamed of my tears. I will not hold them back. I will cry in kids movies, when I eat my favorite brownie and when my feelings get a little hurt. I will shed all of these tears unapologetically.
It's okay. I cry. And it's okay if you never cry. Can we just stop trying to be what everyone else wants us to be, and just be?