I’m noticing a trend. I’m not sure why I’m noticing it just now. It’s possible that it’s because I’m now working with teenage girls who completely embody this trend, or maybe the world is shifting and this trend is surfacing more and more. I don’t know.
That trend is this: using tears as a barometer for our individual ability to care about something. A movie, for example, js only meaningful and poignant if it brought the watcher to tears. I will only miss somebody during a goodbye if I can squeeze out a few tears. I’m only truly moved by something if I’m brought to heart-wrenching displays of face water leakage. Tears are a powerful thing. They are an overflow of emotion that manifest in tangible, visible ways. However, I think this habit that people have of attributing empathy or strong feeling through tears is ridiculous.
I’ve literally had friends point out their tears to me, as if it proves how strongly they feel. Wait, what? Are my feelings less genuine because I’m not a crying person? This drives me insane. I’ve even felt like it’s a weirdly competitive thing. “Oh yes, you were sad about that thing that happened. But I shed precious tears over it, so I was clearly more moved than you and am entitled to feel more strongly and be more impacted by this event.”
I actually used to buy into this mentality. I would almost go as far as to feign emotion just to not appear callous and apathetic. The truth is, I internalize my emotions, particularly sad. If I’m actually sad, I will isolate and withdraw. I only really cry when I’m stressed out or angry. Feeling like I need to justify my emotions is such a frustrating thing, and I refuse to buy into it anymore. Recently (and yes, this has come up several times in just the past few weeks), I’ve started saying “I’m not a crier.” Which is absolutely true. It’s not something I do regularly. But really, I think when we over-indulge in our emotions and use tears as a barometer for our ability to care, we do ourselves and others an injustice. I would like to think that we could express and receive empathy because of our shared human experience, not because I’m forcing you to feel the things I’m feeling by shoving the feels in your face!
I’m done ranting.