Vaguely connected with my post yesterday, another thing that I have been feeling ashamed about lately is how easily I cry. Sometimes I joke about it, like how I used to cry over cute commercials when I had cable or about how I couldn’t get through an episode of Extreme Home Makeover without bawling my eyes out, but joking, as it often is, is a defense mechanism to distract people from the fact that I cry really easily.
Happy tears don’t make me feel ashamed. Crying over movie trailers (thanks, Megan Levy) doesn’t make me feel ashamed. However, crying because I’m angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, or too hurt to come up with witty repartee does.
It happens at work more often than I would like. My job is pretty high stress, with lots of deadlines and an overwhelming amount of numbers, which I figured out in my early adult life that I transpose frequently enough to make me doubt at least 75% of any calculations I have to do. I feel bogged down more often than not and like I’m floundering a lot of the time. While there are people in my professional life who know this about me and are very understanding about the effect that frustration and making mistakes (eg: one mistake leads to a snowball of others) has on me, it embarrasses me that, regardless of how hard I work to maintain any kind of professional blase, tears and emotions are right below the surface.
I am ashamed also, that my anger generally tends to be unproductive and a prelude to frustrated tears. Whenever I read articles about fostering resilience, I feel especially ashamed, because I don’t feel like I’m capable of resilience at all. Most of the time, when I get angry or things go wrong (or I perceive them as going wrong), I shut down and start to cry. It’s very frustrating, which makes me cry more and feel more ashamed for giving in. There’s very rarely a stiff upper lip here, folks.
A friend of mine gave some perspective on this recently, when I was talking to her about how I wished I could be ‘tougher’ and more ‘assertive’, so that I could handle confrontations better. She said to me (and I’m paraphrasing) that people who are like that are generally like that because they’ve had to be. Now, some experiences in my life could have turned me into that, but I’ve held hard to softness and the ability to be emotional. While I feel shame and frustration over my tears, maybe it would serve me better to appreciate that I can cry and that I’m not ‘hard af’.
Owning my marshmallow-ness is probably the healthier, more grateful way to go. I just wish I were better at handling it. A selective marshmallow, if you will, so that I could face situations where it’s not appropriate to cry with a little more resilience.
How have you built resilience in your lives?