Tuesday, 10 November 2015

I'll bare you my tears

I am someone who cries easily.

A few months ago, I cried when my father reprimanded me.
2 years ago, I cried when my Commanding Officer humiliated me.
3 years ago, I cried upon receiving my mediocre “A” level results.
7 years ago, I cried when my first cheerleading competition was cancelled.
12 years ago, I cried when the boys at school stole my Hello Panda biscuits.
15 years ago, I cried when a kangaroo snatched a bag of fries from my hands.

That is not all.

Even now, I cry after EVERY argument – whether I’ve won or lost.
I cry when people say nasty things about me.
I cry when I can’t think of a good comeback.
I cry when I’ve done something wrong and when I’ve hurt someone.
I cry when I think of people that I dearly miss.
I cry when I’m stress, when I’m sad, when I’m hurt, when I’m disappointed, when I’m angry.

And that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that, sometimes, people are watching. Because I’m utterly embarrassed, instead of ceasing to cry, more tears end up spilling out of my eyes.

“Stop being a crybaby.”
“Why are you overreacting?”
“Stop acting like it’s such a big deal.”

These are but the few things that I always tell myself when I’m stuck in an embarrassing and tearful (literally and figuratively) situation.

A couple of weeks ago, I got so frustrated at myself that I googled, “Why do I cry so easily?” Yes, the answers that I find on Google are usually surprisingly therapeutic when I’m angst-ridden. (This includes questions such as “why do I hate everyone?”, “why am I always tired?” and “how to get rid of period cramps?”)

I learned 2 things that made me no longer ashamed of my crying habits.

1. Crying is not a sign of weakness.

I know it is clich├ęd. You’ve probably heard of it before – so have I – but somehow, feeling ashamed of your tears seems inevitable. You’re afraid that others may think that you’re sensitive, overemotional and weak.

Every time I’m on the verge of tears, I would look into the light, bite my lips, swallow my saliva, and try not to blink – anything that would not give it away. Sometimes I succeed. I manage to hold back my tears, just in time to run to the washroom for a good long bawl. Sometimes I don’t. (In my mind) I would curse and swear at myself, punishing myself for the unwarranted scene that I’ve created.

I realised that I needed to stop. Crying is not a damn crime. I read the medical science behind crying: it is a mere release of the buildup of energy and feelings. It is not because you’re helpless, it does not mean that you’re giving up and it should not be something that you ought to suppress. People cry when they’re touched, people cry when they’re overjoyed, people cry when they’re sad, people cry when they’re embarrassed. It. Is. Perfectly. Normal.

2.  Crying makes you human. (and stronger.)

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before - more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.” 
― Charles DickensGreat Expectations

I’ve never really noticed it but I always, always, always feel better after letting it out. Pouring out buckets of tears seems like the perfect metaphor for emptying my frustration, anxiety, and disappointments… The situation might not have changed (a single bit) but I’m renewed with greater fortitude.

Singapore’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, did not hold back his tears on National TV when he announced the failure of Singapore’s merger with Malaysia in 1965.

Abraham Lincoln, the President who led America through its civil war, did not stifle his sobs when he first heard the Battle Hymn of the Republic, a song written in the midst of the civil war, proclaiming God’s faithfulness in times of tribulation.

Jennifer Aniston, now happily married to Justin Theroux, shed heart-breaking tears over her divorce with Brad Pitt in 2005.

They may have seemed like tears of devastation but these tears were merely stepping-stones to a greater future. The psychology of crying reveals that it is a survival mechanism. It is a signal that you need to address something. It is after crying that I have the courage to apologise for my mistakes. It is after crying that I am able to swallow insults and accept correction. It is after crying that I can raise my hands and praise Him through the storm.

The next time you feel like crying when you’re in a crowd, don’t be ashamed of yourself. Don’t be afraid to let it out, for the one who isn’t afraid of what others may perceive of him or her is more courageous than the coward who judges at the corner. After all, it just shows that you're human.

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