Saturday, 4 October 2014

Crying in Public

The phrase "Ugly Crying" is one that I understand completely: full body, crumbled face, snotty sobbing that leaves you unable to make legible sounds. But I do have a few issues with it, mostly that it implys there is a way to be attractive when crying which is an utterly absurd idea.

Jess, New Girl. via Tumblr
I cry, often and a lot. I missed that part of growing up where I was teased for being a crybaby and learnt to suppress tears. I'm aware it's odd how easily I burst into tears but it's also one of things I've just accepted, not crying would be like not freckling it's a physical response that feels completely out of my control. It's just one of those things that I do, I get emotional and I cry.

If I am upset then there's just an outpouring of fluid from my eyes, my face goes blotchy, and sometimes (rarely) I start to hiccup. It doesn't matter if I'm by myself, surrounded by friends or family, or complete strangers. Being prone to crying and unable to predict it I have found myself in awkward situations, waiting in the queue at Sainsbury's when overcome with depression- cry. In the library after a disagreeable meeting with a tutor- cry. Walking down the street on a day when my hormones have decided life isn't unpredictable enough- cry.

Possibly if those situations had been awkward enough I'd have found a way to get a lid on it, instead they taught me something else: other people don't give a shit.

If I'm around people I know then usually they make it worse by trying to talk about it, which is reasonable, usually crying is a sign that something is wrong, I understand completely that they want to help. But if you're alone in a crowded place no will give a toss. As individuals we care about the emotional well being of someone we know, as a social group crying is perfectly acceptable so long as you still get on with what you were doing. If you're in the shopping queue make sure you have your bags ready to pack and money to hand over, don't miss your stop on the bus, if in the library keep the sniffing to a minimum and carry on reading.

Seriously, we are. via Tumblr
I'm sure if I curled up in a ball, Ugly Crying in the middle of the street strangers would come up to me. But if you just keep your head up, walk on, occasionally wipe away the tears so you can see where you're going, you'll be dandy. Public displays of crying have become so commonplace in NYC that there is in fact an entire Tumblog devoted to the best places to go and cry.

I don't find crying a cathartic experience, it's more like a nosebleed, a mild annoyance that you can't really affect and is the sort of thing best dealt with by yourself- other people blustering around will just get in the way.

I would urge you, if you see someone crying in public, to treat them in the same way you would someone having a nosebleed. Offer them a tissue, ask if they're all right, leave them to get on with it. Obviously step three might alter based in their response to step two- if they're crying or bleeding because someone hit them, for example, stick around.

Do you cry a lot? Or are you more like my dad: see somebody crying, get terribly British, offer to put the kettle on and just leave until you think it's all over?

Joy xx
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  1. I never know what to do when someone is crying. I'm horrible at handling or understanding my own emotions, let alone anyone else's. I tend to ask if I can help, then do the British thing and offer tea.
    I've started to cry a lot more as I've gotten older. Or I think I do, maybe time has just sped up so much that it seems more often because everything seems like a week ago haha.

    Oh and attractive way to cry - does single perfect tear count? (I'm mostly familiar with Jensen Ackles but TVTropes has a whole page of them

    1. Oh dear, now I'm going to spend another night on Tumblr sighing over Supernatural actors... I think tea is always helpful, especially if you don't know what else to do. It's certainly better than standing nearby patting them on the back and muttering vaguely supportive noises.

  2. The nosebleed analogy is perfect. I have no qualms about crying in public if I'm overwhelmed with emotion. I frequently cried on the walk home from my last job. Thankfully my new job is excellent, so no tears so far! :) xxx

    1. Oh no, I know I've just said that crying is natural and understandable but that definitely doesn't mean something specific should regularly make you teary. I'm glad you found a new job, hope it continues in it's excellence xx

  3. Oh I'm such an easy crier... Even this post made me tear up a little!
    I'm terrible at helping others when they're crying. When it's myself, I'd rather people just sort of ignored it. Asking if I'm okay or what they can do just makes me cry even more!