I’ve been wanting to read If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You by Kelly Cutrone for awhile. It’s totally on my TBR list (which is growing more and more unmanageably gargantuan) because it seems like a really heartfelt, honest book on female empowerment, and basically how to be a hard-working bossbitch, which I am all about.
But a part of me can’t get over the title: If You Have to Cry, Go Outside. It depicts crying as something undesirable, or unacceptable. I mean, you shouldn’t be a weeping, snot-monster every single day, and it truly is unprofessional to cry in front of your boss or customers every single time you’re upset. However, what’s so wrong about giving in to a good cry every so often?
In college, I worked as a part-time server at an upscale retirement community. Like most serving jobs, I had to recite specials, take orders, accommodate special requests, and refrain from screaming that purple carrots are not actually poisoned vegetables. My “customers” were 75 and up. Some were really, really sweet, but some were really, really mean. Or sick. Or mean because they were sick. Whatever. I spent three years serving the same people over and over again. Probably once every three or four months, I would break down and cry into the freezer, or lock myself in a stall so I could sob while the cooks garnished a halibut plate.
Granted, I’m an emotional person and I take things too personally sometimes. Like, I am way too sensitive, and I know it. But serving can really drain you. It’s for tough people only. Once, a woman ordered the chicken entrée with some mashed potatoes. Easy. Breezy. Beautiful. I put in the order, I took it out, I gorgeously presented it to her, and I set forth to check up on my other tables. But two seconds later, I heard, “GIRL.” Like, not a “Oh hai gurl!” girl, but a “You’re clearly wearing a name-tag, but I choose not to address you as a real human” girl.
“Can I help you? Is everything alright?” I was polite as sh*t, you guys. I was on my game like a royal butler.
“Do you know what SALT is? S-A-L-T.”
“It’s a mineral.”
“Did you know that salt could kill me? I have high blood-pressure. Just the smallest amount could make my legs bloat. Like balloons.”
“That’s really sad, I’m sorry.”
“Are you? Why are these potatoes salty then? Why is this chicken covered in salt?”
“Well, mashed potatoes are generally made with salt. So is chicken francaise.” I was trying REALLY hard not to remind her that she ordered these things. She pointed at the menu and said these words aloud with her mouth. And I wrote her requests down on a pad of paper, and then fetched her said food made by people who are paid to cook.
Anyway, she ended up making a formal complaint about my service, my hair (she didn’t like my bangs), and said I was rude. I got written up. It was my first time getting in trouble at work, and after the manager shrugged in a “it-is-what-it-is” way, I excused myself to pee and ended up sobbing all my mascara off.
I didn’t always cry because people were mean to me. I cried when I found out a resident had fallen down the stairs and died. I cried a couple years ago when I was a college advisor at a high school and met with a student who asked if there was any way the organization I worked for could take her to the college fair because her parents didn’t feel like spending the gas money on that. I cried after a student in MY college freshman class raised her hand and suggested that maybe Native Americans made up their entire history “because they were probably biased” and I was too shocked to say anything except, “Um, no. No. That part of history was pretty real.” I guess I cry when things are unfair, or seem beyond my control.
I think crying is especially frowned upon for women because there’s this idea that if we do cry, it’s because we’re weak, insufferable, or possibly manipulative. Strong women don’t cry! They hide any hint of emotion, because emotions turn you into a girly-girl. And we can’t have that.
During the 2008 Presidential Campaign Trail, Hillary Clinton got a little teary-eyed as she discussed her role as a politician who truly cares about her country’s state of affairs. The media was HOWLING for weeks, loudly sneering at Clinton’s overflow of feelings, suggesting that she was totally on her period, and questioning how the US could possibly survive as a country when we have a weepy, unstable female who is too busy clutching a heating pad and a box of tissues, to run it.
I am certain that most of us hold jobs that are stressful, or demanding in one way or another. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a teacher, painter, engineer, biologist, actor, writer, or mother. Jobs, even when we absolutely love them, can be challenging, and the pressure to be perfect, or please everyone is very real. And I’m not even going to get into all the times we fail, or make mistakes. I hate failing and making mistakes. But with everything you do, you won’t always be winning.
Crying doesn’t help solve all those problems. Crying can’t squash your mounting fears, or vanquish everything that makes you sad. But it can feel good to cry. It can feel inexplicably extraordinary to give yourself the luxury of letting tears stream down your cheeks and lazily drip off your nose. I think it’s perfectly okay to give yourself that.
I don’t think crying is a big deal. I don’t think showing your vulnerability means you’ve like, gone soft, or you’re incapable of kicking ass. Believe me, I kick ass. But I also feel sad about things I can’t control sometimes, and there’s nothing wrong with those feelings. Boys are told not to “cry like a girl,” but maybe if our culture is so offended by crying, we should tell ourselves not to “cry like a human.” Because that’s all that we are: human.