I Cry Therefore I Am.
I cry. I’m a crier. I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m sad, I cry when I’m angry, I cry when I’m hungry, I cry when I’m passionate, I cry when I simply don’t care.
I get it. I need help. Well I need a healthier way to express my emotions and communicate on a functional level, especially in the work place. But I’m not weak, I promise, I’m really not.
And herein lies the problem, despite Sheryl Sandberg’s commendable efforts, crying is still very much perceived as a woman's weakness. I mean, why wouldn’t it be? I work in an office overwhelming populated by men, aside from the admin staff I am the only woman in a managerial position, and I have never seen a single person with a Y chromosome cry. I’ve seen them shout and curse and I’ve seen anger bubble over into physical blows. But zero tears shed.
How many times have they seen me cry? Oh countless.
I am not an indecisive person, I do not shy away from responsibility or accountability and I can also take a solid telling off square on the chin. But I know that the moment those tears start to fall that I have lost a smidge of respect from my colleagues (and knowing the amount of times that the floodgates have opened, it keeps me awake at night wondering how much respect might actually be left).
So why do I do it? Well as aforementioned it is how I deal with any strong emotion that I have, these mainly being anger and frustration. Two common feelings that everyone who has ever worked in the history of ever will feel on a daily basis.
Clearly it bothers me that I am judged for this, I know that I am. I can see the look on my colleagues faces when my voice starts to wobble and the first treacherous tear tumbles down my cheek. But crying doesn’t hinder me from resolving issues and getting my work done, so does it matter?
I feel embarrassed when I cry, I really do. I know that it creates a false impression of who I really am and gives others leeway to think they can take advantage of a perceived weakness in my character. But I ask myself this — why is it so awful and taboo to cry in a professional setting when many of those around me use aggressive, intimidating and bullying tactics to express their emotions in the workplace and don’t feel abashed or ashamed by their actions?