Boy’s aren’t supposed to cry. I heard this a lot when I was growing up. Hide your feelings is another way of putting it. That’s what I did when I was in middle school through college. No, that’s a lie, I still hide some feelings, but I am way more open now than I used to be. I also put a lot of weight into what other people thought of me, more than what I thought of myself. Now, I know that way of thinking was very damaging to myself in many ways, socially, mentally and physically.
I held my emotions in until I exploded. I remember coming home from middle(?) school one day and writing “I am stupid” tens of times in a single sheet of 8.5×11 single lined paper. I don’t recall the reason why, but I have to assume I thought that “I was stupid”. After that I started to go to therapy every week for a number of months. I can only remover a handful of things that happened, taking an IQ test and forgetting what the Eiffel Tower was called, even though I knew the location and going to the comic store afterwards to get Usagi Yojimbo and TMNT comics.
Through that IQ test, I found out that I was, in fact, definitely not stupid and I had worked out whatever issues I had at the time related to that incident. But I still held in my feelings, thought way to much about what other people think of me.
Through the years, I learned that I have social anxiety, which probably played a lot into the thinking what other people think of me, but through time I’ve learned to let that go, for the most part. I still catch myself doing that from time to time and I just tell myself, “I’ll probably never see these people again, so stick out and be remembered and not get lost in the crowd. If I do see someone again, they may get a glimpse of the real me, who is pretty cool.”
Boy’s don’t cry or show emotion, that’s gone out the window. I cry during every episode of Pitbulls and Parolees. Hell, I’ve teared up a few times writing this post. But when I was in high school, I was not “normal”. I had long hair and was constantly teased because of it. It didn’t help that I was on the water polo team and seemed to be a easy target for some of the juniors and seniors. I was >this< close to getting into a fight with one of the varsity players, but I put the team in front of myself (thinking of others before myself) and while I didn’t back down, I didn’t put this clown in his place. I could have, but I didn’t. Once again, I shoved my feelings down and moved on.
I recently learned that a second cousin of mine had been teased because he grew his hair out long, like I had done. I think he was a lot stronger than me, because he took it all in stride as he knew his end game. He was going to donate his hair to another kid in need, similar to what I did by donating my hair to locks of love (twice). I’m so proud of him. (And now I’m crying in an airport. No f’s given)
Part of me thinks, the series of events that happened made it easier for me to not sweat the little things and deal with bigger issues. But I’m not positive about that. I still don’t live an unfiltered life, but I think I let out enough to seem normal to the world. If I need help, I will reach out. I’m not afraid of doing that.
Just because I cry doesn’t mean I’m not strong. I know I’m not perfect, I’m growing and learning every day, but I am me. Deal with it or get out of my way.s
Thank you to Geek Fit http://brainiak.fm/geekfit/ (defunct URL and podcast) for discussing Mental Health Issues on the podcast which triggered this flow of information out of my head.