Grow Yourself Up: The Work Cry

I‘ve never met a lady who hasn’t cried at work before. It doesn’t matter how baller we are, how much charisma and strength we exude, or how hard we try to keep our crap together—a sick relative or a picture of a dachshund in a wheelchair (fig. 1) can make the strongest women misty.

(fig. 1, wheelchair dachshund. Keep on keepin’ on, little guy.)

If crying at work is impossible to avoid, the best thing you can do is roll with it. Here’s how:

1. Don’t fight it—or yourself.

Seriously, don’t. Have you ever been swimming in the ocean? You can’t fight against the waves (fig. 2); you jump them and ride them back to shore.

(fig. 2, beating up the ocean. This does not work.)

Don’t beat up on yourself for crying at work; this is not something “strong women” can avoid, or some “sad-sack problem with your emotions” you have because “you are a giant failure” and you should “probably lay down in front of a city bus.” Not that I have ever thought these things; they are just examples.

2. Shut the door, hit the bathroom, find an office.

Sometimes it’s better to just cry alone, and different weeping hidey-holes have different advantages. Sobbing soundlessly in a bathroom stall offers endless toilet paper tissues; a darkened office keeps anyone from seeing your face. Lots of offices have “relaxation rooms.” Take advantage of these.

3. Take deep, cleansing breaths, plus two ibuprofen.

Someone in college once told me to “breathe in Jesus and breathe out peace.” I have never forgotten this, and now when I am sad I think of it because it’s the most hilarious thing anyone has ever said to me.

Ibuprofen soothes swollen eyes and headaches from your endless, racking sobs.

4. Lie.

This is great for the walk back, and for the rest of the day. Do you have really bad allergies? A cold? Did your contact lens get something in it? Did all of these things happen at once? Nobody can prove they didn’t (fig. 3).

(fig. 3, weeping child. This baby just has an eyelash in its eye. I swear.)

You can do it. The sandy shore of functional adulthood is just over that next wave. I believe in you.

  • Marissa A. Ross

    Ha! How coincidental that I LITERALLY just started crying at work right now about twenty-two seconds before clicking over to HG. Thanks for the timely tips! :)

  • Jennifer Still

    Oh man, love this! Great first article, girl. Can’t wait to read more from you :) Breathe in Jesus, breathe out peace, indeed!

  • Paul Kittredge

    I think I need to breathe in Jesus and breathe out peace more.

  • Abbey Kos

    Oh, no, tears — hope you’re feeling better, Marissa! And thanks, Jennifer…I’m so excited to get my giggle on. (Paul, I don’t think you could possibly breathe out peace any harder than you already do. 😉 )

  • Beth Curry

    Ugh, the slightest bit of frustration I have and I start bawling like a baby.

  • Allison Andresini

    I totally could have used these tips this morning! Sometimes it seems impossible NOT to cry when so many things are going wrong, and then I beat myself up further for “not being able to handle it” and “wimping out” in the face of obstacles. I have to remind myself that being a strong woman and showing emotion are not mutually exclusive. In fact, you look a lot stronger when you admit to your feelings, deal with them, and move forward maturely from them than when you bottle them up or try to deny them. I should just accept the emotions I’m feeling in the moment instead of doing that awkward half-cry, half-choke, smile-through-the-tears-while-I-give-myself-a-tension-headache thing.. Yeah, not so helpful when you have a lot of work to get done. The ibuprofin tip was a good one, too! Thanks so much!

  • Kristina Tuason

    OMG girl, i love this. nice to see some emotional females being real. helps me get over the average heart-of-stone medusa type women i tend to meet

  • Elizabeth P. Fink

    Ah yes the bathroom cry, a friend to every girl!

  • Jane Murphy

    Great post! Very good advice….especially breathe in Jesus, breathe out peace. Love it!

  • Amanda Oliver

    loved this. plus, i just moved to D.C. last week and i have been dying to read something cool from someone that lives here!

  • Jen Myers-Carlson

    Oh man, crying in the office of a boss a couple levels above you is the WORST. I never seem to cry when I can escape. It’s always when I am RIGHT in someone’s face. SO BAD.

  • Jocelyn Dugan

    I can’t believe you avoided “Keep on Rollin” for the Daschund/Wheelchair picture.

    Too easy, you say? I love it.

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  • Alfredo Monge

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