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Embrace the tears

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As the saying (almost) goes, it’s my life, and I’ll cry if I want to.

At my middle school, there was this widely held belief that being seen crying was equivalent to wearing a scarlet letter on your chest. It was the ground for social ostracism for the day, more than likely brought on by yourself because the thought of facing anyone after such a mortifying incident was too much to bear. My nightmares weren’t haunted by recurring visions of showing up to school in my underwear. That would have been child’s play — a sweet dream compared to the terror of falling prey to an uncontrollable outburst of tears in the middle of a school day. Cheeks stained, nose running, head hanging, all while the cool kids looked on and laughed in their Hollister tops and knee-high converse. The thought of it was petrifying. I would hold in my tears with all of my might. And for a long time, that mindset stuck with me.

Thankfully, I’ve grown out of my compulsive desire to repress my emotions. I feel wholly comfortable admitting that I’m a crier. And I love it.

Honestly, I’ve always been this way. When I was little, even my cousins who were years younger than me had nicknamed me the “cry baby.” And, of course, when I heard about that, I cried. Nostalgia. Joy. Stress. Frustration. Sadness. Fear.  Excitement. The type of laughter that can only be brought on by a select few. As soon as any of those feelings hit me, it’s only a matter of seconds before I feel the warm and tingly sensation welling up in my eyes.

I cry almost every time watching “Friday Light Nights” whenever the Dillon Panthers win a football game that they were dangerously close to losing. I cry when my dog looks especially cute. Sometimes I’ll be tempted to shed a few tears when my computer runs out of storage. I cry when I retell the story of something that made me cry earlier. Honestly, if something that is intended to be sad can’t make me cry, that is a failure of epic proportions on the part of the creator.

When someone tells me that it’s been weeks, months or, perish the thought, even years since they last cried, it is simply unfathomable to me (and for the record, I think that anyone who says so is probably lying). Sometimes, I purposefully watch something sad just because I’m in the mood to cry.

I’m incredibly tired of people associating crying with weakness. Crying does not mean that I’m not in control of my emotions. It does not mean that I’m incapable of handling myself, or that I constantly make mountains out of molehills or that I’m just too sensitive. I don’t cry over spilled milk. And even if I did, what does it matter to you? I dole my tears out as I see fit, and most of the time, it is done appropriately, with no interference on my ability to go about my day normally within a few minutes. It’s the definition of catharsis for me. Afterwards, I feel like an entirely new person. More relaxed, less stressed and like I can handle anything. One last sniffle and a quick dab to my eyes, and I’m good to go.  It’s honestly empowering.

For anyone who ever feels embarrassed of crying, just embrace it. No more looking up to the ceiling in the hopes that you’ll stop the tears before they spill over the brim. No more stifling your sounds so that no one can hear you through the thin walls. Cry loudly (if you so desire). Cry proudly (as you always should). Just cry. It’s good for the soul.

Contact Kassidy Kelley at kckelley ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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