An earnest treatise in defense of adult tears, in public, in private, in sadness, happiness, triumph and tragedy.
I cry at least twice every day. Well, not full rolling tears, no sobs, no hiccups. But at some point every day, the tears will well up, and I’ll have to blink them down and take a deep breath to settle myself down.
What makes me cry? Well, anything inspiring: people pursuing their dreams, the glory of adventures, any indication of spirit, holy or otherwise, anything grand, even and especially tiny evidence of grace, moments of tenderness or illumination, any story of people aspiring and achieving. I cry over Malala, over a dog showing its unique version of love, over a particularly aspirational Google ad, over a gorgeously lyrical line of prose. Sometimes I cry about sad things, but more often, I cry over the big, gorgeous, incredible aspects of this life of ours.
I think this is good. For me at least, the older I get, the more in touch I become with the power of grace and of magic. I love what this week’s “You’re Cool” feature, Tavi Gevinson, says about being in touch with this magic:
“My goofiest-sounding secret is that I also believe in magic. Sometimes I call it God and sometimes I call it light, and I believe in it because every now and then I read a really good book or hear a really good song or have a really conversation with a friend and they seem to have some kind of shine to them. The list I keep of these moments in the back of my journal is comprised less of times when I was laughing and smiling and more of times when I felt like I could feel the colors in my eyes deepening from the display before me. Times in which I felt I was witnessing an all-encompassing representation of life driven by an understanding that, coincidence or not, our existence is a peculiar thing, and perhaps the greatest way to honor it is to just be human. To be happy AND sad, and everything else.’
It is this feeling, in different shades and tones and depth, that moves me to tears.
As adult women, we’re not supposed to cry in public. It makes us seem childish, hysterical, emotional, overly sensitive… you get the picture. Women already get written off for the stereotype of having too little control over their emotions, so public tears can increase questions about the qualifications and their ability.
But I’m not sure crying deserves the bad rap it gets.
For me, these tears are a new development. I never really cried when I was younger, but the older that I get, the more prone I am to tears. This isn’t from stress or sadness; maybe I am hyper-sensitive, but maybe I’m just deeply connected to the moment.
Instead, maybe these tears well up because I’m starting to see those incredible moments and expressions of love for how special they really are. I am so overcome by grace and beauty and magnitude, so often – and is that so bad?