I did a lot of somewhat frightening things in college.
Yes, there was the partying. The dabbling in this and the dabbling in that. But there was a moment recently when I remember standing up in front of a class I was in and giving a deeply personal speech. It was LGBTQ week and as one of the only men in my class, no less one of the only gay people there, I was asked to speak.
Maybe this should’ve been scary. I don’t know. I find, like most people I’m assuming, that it’s pretty easy to talk about yourself once you’ve opened up to the idea. Like we’re stuck with our own selves all damn day, we usually know what we’re talking about in that area.
And there was this moment. I don’t know. Someone asked if I’d ever been physically threatened. And it brought up something I hadn’t thought about in a while. Something I’d probably not dealt with totally. And before I knew it was telling the story and wiping tears away.
The whole room stood up. It was really fucking weird.
I tell this story not to pat myself on the back.
Although, yes, I do try and tell myself I’m a bad-ass on the regular.
What I’m really trying to get at is the power of vulnerability. The reason why crying, it turns out, is an experience that should be shared. That’s right, shared.
I’m sure there are some hyper-masculine dude-bro’s or whatever who will hear something like this and disagree. “It shows weakness” ya ya ya ya ya. Nobody needs the masculinity complexes.
Crying makes us look ugly. It’s true.
When you’re crying in front of people, you’re exposing them to you at possibly your ugliest. Your rawest. Your core. And I think the danger of living in a society where these emotions are often encouraged to be pushed off is that we miss out on deeply connected with anyone.
I’ll talk to people who were married and say they never saw their partner cry. Or that they never had a deep and honest conversation about their deepest struggles. That seems like a pretty big problem when you’re living with someone. My mother has seen me at my absolute messiest and, let me tell you, it only makes our relationship weirder (in a good way).
Emotions are such a sensitive subject. And, honestly, I wish they weren’t. because you can be competitive and strong and powerful while also bawling your eyes out at a movie.
It’s actually that vulnerability that shows me who the strongest people are. They aren’t afraid to get ugly. They aren’t afraid to look like a mess. And we connect with that because we’re also a mess in some way.
We just hide it a lot.
Previously published on Medium
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