I see nothing but blurriness. The only thing I am able to feel is my fingernails digging into the ground below me. I hear the muffled noise of my “rainy days” playlist changing the song. I am breaking. In another place, in the same moment, a different girl is laughing with her friends. Her friend tells her the funniest joke, and they cannot stop laughing. Tears stream down their faces as they struggle to contain themselves – happy.
Crying can result from many different types of emotions, like happiness, sadness, pain, or anxiety. However, crying is most often associated with sadness, and possibly a cry for help.
“Crying signals to yourself and other people that there is some important problem that is at least temporarily beyond your ability to cope,” emotion researcher and USF psychology professor Jonathon Rottenberg said.
Rottenberg argues that tears show vulnerability, which is critical to human connection. In this sense, it is good to cry.
“The same neuronal areas of the brain are activated by seeing someone emotionally aroused as being emotionally aroused oneself,” studies from the University College London report. “There must have been some point in time, evolutionarily, when the tear became something that automatically set off empathy and compassion in another. Actually being able to cry emotionally, and being able to respond to that, is a very important part of being human.”
There are individuals in the world that are born to be sensitive, and crying is no stranger to them. But to people that have grown up being told not to cry, or to “man up,” they begin to see crying as weak and somewhat pathetic.
Repressing one’s emotions can either assist the person to achieve in their career and in life, or could potentially cause psychological damage, according to Stanford University psychologist Dr. Daniel Weinberger.
”Repressors tend to be rational and in control of their emotions,” Weinberger said. ”They see themselves as people who don’t get upset about things, who are cool and collected under stress. You see it in the competent surgeon or lawyer who values not letting his emotions shade his judgment.”
The repression of strong emotions often has health risks and can lead to emotional unavailability. It is extremely difficult for repressors to form close relationships with others because they are unable to engage emotionally and are often distant. This leads to problems with marriage and children later in life.
According to the New York Times, repressors also have a lower resistance for infectious diseases, and are more likely to have allergic reactions.
While repressors may have other coping mechanisms for their problems, a good old fashioned cry is sometimes what is best.
“Crying activates the body in a healthy way,” clinical psychologist at UCLA Stephen Sideroff said. “Letting down one’s guard and one’s defenses and [crying] is a very positive, healthy thing. The same thing happens when you watch a movie and it touches you and you cry… That process of opening into yourself… it’s like a lock and key.”
Crying is an essential part of life and something that should be more embraced by everyone, but specifically high schoolers. The workload and constant need for validation from parents, teachers, and colleges is stressful, and crying can be a way to deal with the stress. Holding in the emotions will only cause a person to break down later on, worse this time, because there will be a build-up of emotions.
It is okay to not be okay all the time. Being vulnerable and feeling emotions is a big part of simply being human, and that fact should be acknowledged by people everywhere.