As a child, I was constantly teased by my older siblings for being “overly sensitive.” Their comments would make me upset and forced me to grow a thick skin. I stopped crying in high school. I mean really stopped. I didn’t cry at funerals or at sad movies. No tears were shed if I received a poor grade or wasn’t asked to the dance by my crush. I would catch myself, using a mantra which basically said crying showed weakness. I was stressed in high school, having panic attacks multiple times a week and becoming anxious when I had to try and fall asleep. So much of what I was feeling had been bottled up, and I was like a pipe ready to burst.
During my first year of college, one of my friends would often get homesick. We would sit on her loft, and she would cry on my shoulder. I felt so distant from the emotions that she was feeling. I couldn’t empathize with her, and it made me feel like I wasn’t being the best friend possible.
I don’t know when I started crying again, but it came all at once. I was exposed to people who were comfortable supporting me. People who cried just as much, if not, more than I did. During my sophomore year, I extended my friend group. These friends were carefree. The stress that I had felt during high school had faded and my anxieties quieted. I didn’t cry as much because I’d become addicted to listening and trying to help people that struggled with their emotions.
During my second semester of sophomore year and into my junior year, I struggled with one of my friends. I was constantly overwhelmed, but would try and bottle it up because I wasn’t fully comfortable with this new group. During my second semester of junior year, I studied abroad and for the first time was completely comfortable with my emotions. I wasn’t fitting the mold of my friend group or hiding my feelings for the sake of others. I was completely true to myself.
Upon arriving back to the U.S., my new found emotional confidence was not welcomed by my friends. I constantly felt judged and anxiety took over my life. It wasn’t until I let go of the people who could not embrace my emotional side that I felt comfortable again.
I know that people will continue to tell me that I’m hyperemotional or overwhelming to be around, but I’ve stopped caring. After a really intense cry, where my eyes feel raw and my face is hot, I feel totally calm. I don’t have stress on the days when I release emotion. My shoulders hurt less and my stomach is butterfly free. I don’t look around, paranoid that I’m being judged. I think having emotions and sharing them make you more human. They make you less intimidating to others. Being open with how you feel allows other people to feel comfortable being open with you. I love a good cry, it’s invigorating. So the next time you feel tears coming, don’t hold back. Let it out. I know being vulnerable is scary, trust me, but don’t stop yourself from feeling to appease others. Humans are meant to feel the most extreme joys and tragedies. Allow your humanity to shine through. That’s all it is.