My Tears Are Not a Sign of Weakness

I hate crying in front of people. Trust me — as uncomfortable as it probably makes you to see it, it’s a thousand times worse to be the one shedding those tears. I can live with the tears; it’s the assumptions I find you make about me when I cry that I can’t stand. In society, tears are sometimes viewed as a weakness. Being vulnerable and showing your humanity is not something valued in our schools and in our workplaces. Crying is inherently seen as a negative behavior — sometimes even manipulative. I’m here to challenge that.

When I cry, it is not because I’m feeling insecure about myself. It’s also not because I’m “not getting my way.” Most of the time, my tears are from frustration at being misunderstood. They are from the constant microaggressions I experience from our culture that does not understand mental illnesses or view them as actual disorders. My tears come from a history of having my character, abilities and capabilities questioned out of assumptions I am lazy, emotionally unstable or too incompetent to do my job. My tears originate from the disconnect between being proud of myself for coming to work today at all after experiencing a panic attack, and your criticism of me for arriving at 8:02 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. My tears are from knowing, when I call into work because of a migraine, my work ethic will be questioned. My tears come from the realization that performing at 100 percent on 95 percent of the days isn’t good enough when the other 5 percent of the time you assume I am faking being ill.

My tears come from knowing I am doing the best I can at this moment in time with the disabilities I have, and because you don’t take the time to understand or listen, I am disciplined for it. So no, my tears aren’t a sign of fragility. My tears are a sign of perseverance.

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