How rolling tears leads to positivity


Grace Dorsey

[dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″ class=”A”]T[/dropcap]ears aren’t only physical release of frustration or stress, but also a reflection of what’s going on with a person internally. Unfortunately, crying in public is often thought of as “weak” or “mopey” rather than both an opportunity to liberate stress and identify someone in need of support.
The forbidden act of crying while in public is a stigma evident in a study that showed nurses were more likely to achieve release (catharsis) by crying in public, as they weren’t scared of what others might do or say. In fact, a national poll found that only 21 percent of people are comfortable crying in public.
So why does such a natural process have such a negative connotation?
Sophomore Olivia Rothwell agrees that publicly crying is associated with negative feelings, such as embarrassment and shame. Rothwell herself avoids crying in public and believes social rules are what enforce the aversion to public displays of emotion.
“I think society has [created a stigma], and it’s led to the personal belief that you shouldn’t do it. Society has made [it so if] you cry in public, you’re a crybaby,” Rothwell said. “It’s embarrassing, everyone tries to get in your business. They don’t take you seriously from that point on, and so it’s usually something people don’t like to do.”
Sophomore Ben Clinton knows that same feeling of preventing himself from crying. He recounts that in second grade he did cry, but it was “super embarrassing and awkward.” Clinton believes that gender plays a role in outwardly showing emotion.
“You only ever see girls crying in the hallways of school, or really anywhere. You don’t see guys break down and cry, probably because guys hide their emotions more,” Clinton said. “Guys don’t really want to show anyone what we’re thinking. We don’t want to seem unmasculine.”
Furthermore, Clinton explained that even though he is uncomfortable with himself crying, he never would associate those same thoughts and feelings toward someone he saw crying.
Instead, Clinton would hope the person felt better soon, or if he/she were his friend, he would try to console them.

[People] don’t take you seriously from that point on, and so it’s usually something people don’t like to do. — Olivia Rothwell, sophomore”

Emily Arth, an outpatient therapist, knows that gender stereotypes affect emotional response.
“I think a lot of people who are more comfortable crying in public over events not viewed as traumatic are labeled as ‘over emotional’ or sometimes even ‘crazy,’” Arth said. “In general, society continues to socialize men to believe crying is effeminate and a weakness, while we still socialize others to believe it is more ‘normal’ or ‘acceptable’ for women to cry because they are more ‘emotional beings.’”
Arth believes American societal ideas about not only crying, but also other ‘unpleasant’ emotions, prevent people from communicating to others’ needs. This can lead to unhealthy habits when it comes to relationships, with patterns of passive aggression and negligence.
“Both men and women have emotions and often people suffer due to their inability to express themselves and process their emotions in a healthy way,” Arth said. “Culture also has an effect on how we socialize people to express emotion. America has its own culture and social constructs, as do all other countries and communities around the world.”
Regardless of if a person cries in public or private, it’s still a sign the person may be emotionally compromised, according an article by Scienceline.
Rothwell believes the best course of action when someone sees another crying isn’t to judge them but to help, when and if they can. She herself knows everyone goes through hard times and it can be hard to hold it in.
“It’s okay to cry [because] everyone cries. We all have reasons. If you feel like you’re going to embarrass yourself, or if you feel uncomfortable, then go to a place you feel comfortable,” Rothwell said “If you have a friend or even just a teacher, I think that’s always a good place to go because you can talk it out.”
art by Neil Cathro
Do you feel comfortable crying in public? Leave a comment below!