I cry. A lot actually. For a huge part of my life, up to just recently, I thought there was something wrong with me. I didn’t understand my emotions and was ashamed of releasing them. I thought crying made me weak.
When I was growing up, people often used my ability to release emotions against me. Sam’s ‘too sensitive’ or ‘too much to handle.’* I was teased by my
peers and adults from my ability to freely express emotion in the form of tears. I started to believe that you should never express that kind of emotion
in public, only in private.
“By avoiding being vulnerable we remain in an isolated state of distress,” Jenna McDougall of Tonight Alive captioned on a photo posted to her Instagram page.
As I got older, I had such a negative self connotation of my own ability to feel and release emotions. At one point I strongly wanted to get my tear ducks removed.
“Not only do we learn this the hard way, most of us never do. When we are young, this quality is often criticized and even prayed on, but as we become more aware and empowered we have to use this as a tool for deeper understanding of the self,” said Jenna McDougall.
A year ago I graduated from university. On graduation day, I was filled with so many emotions and a strong feeling of hope that I did it. I was also trying my hardest not to cry, that back voice in my brain saying ‘do not be weak and embarrass yourself.’ I tried my hardest to make it through the ceremony without a tear and I almost did.
As we were exiting the ceremony, I saw one of my male peers who just graduated crying, hugging a professor. In that moment, I realized that it was okay to cry. Scratch that - it’s more than okay. It is beautiful. Crying is beautiful.
Then it hit me. My ability to release emotions doesn't mean there is anything wrong me, it means there is everything right with me. We let ourselves freely smile, so why not cry?
“Vulnerability is an expression of courage. Be courageous,” said Jenna McDougall.
After the ceremony, I had two people tell me that my tears strongly impacted them. They said the emotions I expressed reflected their own and that my tears are a sign of strength.
“I’m not saying that I don't feel pain. I’m not saying that I don't feel sadness and suffering and loneliness because that’s what it means to be a human being, is we feel. But, I’m saying that pain, and that loneliness, and that sadness is beautiful,” said Claire Wineland at Life Is Beautiful Festival 2015.
It isn't always easy to be yourself and embrace all that you’re feeling. A few months back, I was still teased for it and had it used against me, to hurt me, but I choose to no longer view my emotions as a weakness. I now understand that my ability to freely express and release emotion is a strength. It is so important to express them and not let them build up inside.
“When you are born in a world you don't fit in, it's because you were born to help create a new one,” said unknown.
It isn't easy to be yourself in a world that wants you to follow the norm, but I am no longer afraid or ashamed of my emotions. Feeling makes me human. It makes me alive.
How beautiful it is that I can never meet someone who wrote a song, but it can still make me release an ocean of tears. Or that poetry written by a women miles away makes me feel so deeply loved by myself. Or that a sunset can fill my soul with so much hope that if something can be so beautiful at the end of the day, so can you.
That’s the ironic part about growing up. What you're opposed for as a child, you are than praised for as an adult. It’s beautiful to be you. Your tears and your emotions are a reminder that you're human. Don't bottle up inside what makes you alive. Let it out! Your inner light deserves to shine and give hope to someone else.
*Article series in partnership with Alive Inside Media.
*“too much to handle” quote from “Devil In Me” by Halsey.