Written by Mary Gao
I remember being told a woman should never cry in a professional setting unless you are really mad. Because then it’s a strategic move- people won’t think you’re weak but rather they will become scared of you. I don’t remember when I learned that having feelings was bad, but I managed to internalize it at a very young age. Can you imagine being so young and already so cynical? As if the world was a game to play and people were all pawns.
I remember I hated being touched.
It wasn’t that I really did, it was just I liked the perception of being someone who didn’t like being touched. I thought it added to some character of what others determined me to be. Being called robotic was somehow a compliment, a synonym to efficient or a useful member of society. I remember thinking that perfection could be achieved, at least the societal definition – smart, social, pretty, fit, creative – a formula that could be replicated.
I think I was admired but never liked; a doll rather than a friend.
I had figured out the formula but something was clearly missing. The snapping point was a few things. It was when my fear of ever feeling ashamed became so bad that I preferred ruining relationships to having difficult conversations. It was watching the Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown and realizing you can’t numb bad feelings without numbing the good ones too. It was making friends that liked me because of my inconsistencies not despite of them.
So now I cry a lot more. And I laugh a lot more too.
It’s rare for me to watch a movie and not cry and I think that’s just some manifestation of being able to empathize more. It’s cathartic to just bawl sometimes. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed because you’re sad, it just means you’re human. I feel like some people knew this their whole lives, some people were just always really in touch with their feelings. And then there are people like me who have to actively try to be genuinely vulnerable. It’s honestly terrifying and uncomfortable. But it’s your right – to feel fully and freely.