I was a crybaby growing up. If someone stole my toy, I would cry.
If someone hit me, I would cry.
If someone made a joke at my expense, guess what? I would cry.
With all those tears shed, you'd be surprised how often I didn't get dehydrated.
It was permissible to be a "cry baby" as a child because you aren't expected to be strong; you aren't expected to understand.
But as I grew older, crying was seen as something negative, something weak. When the hell did that flip switch? Where was I to approve of it?
Thing is, that wasn't up to me. For so long, I was told to not be "sensitive." I was told not to cry, and I was told to hold it in.
So I did.
I held those tears in because I felt that in order to be strong, I couldn't show this kind of emotion. In order to be strong, I wasn't allowed to cry.
I'll say this now because it's the truth: I wasn't allowed to cry because I'm a boy.
That's the mindset society calls for in its male-identifying individuals: hidden emotion and visible physical strength.
To add insult to injury, I could always tell when I was about to cry because my left arm would get shooting tingles, like a warning sign saying, "Hold the tears, you're supposed to be a man. Men don't show tears."
To be honest, I can't quite recall the last time I cried, or felt tears cascade down my cheeks and drip on to the collar of my shirt.
Yet, I don't feel any stronger having not cried for so long. In fact, I feel broken.
Not being able to outwardly express these feelings made me feel confined within the some invisible box of stoic masculinity that somehow inhibited my strength.
At funerals, I wouldn't cry, but during those moments of sadness and despair, I wanted to cry more than anything in the world. My body just wouldn't let me.
In the one permissible scenario where tears are allowed — more so expected — they didn't show up. It's wrong to let that get to me because it's nothing I could control at the time.
It's something I didn't know I could control, like I do now.
The only thing standing in our way is ourselves and what we perceive others will think of us. We're our worst nightmare and our own white knights.
Once you realize that, I guess things don't become so bad or upsetting or odd because that's when you realize that you have total control over anything and everything.
In taking control of my emotions, I will say I will allow my child to cry, I will allow my friends to cry and I will allow anyone who wants to cry that luxury.
Because crying is a good thing. It isn't a sign of weakness or submissiveness; we can decide that it's strength.
To wear your heart on your sleeve for the whole world to see shouldn't be weakness, it should be seen as bravery.
When you stop and take a look at the world constructed around you, how many people do you think are truly strong?
How many people can boast with confidence that they are strong? Probably not many.
The truest sign of strength can sometimes be crying. Few people ever dare to do that because they don't believe it to be true.
Like me, they've kept emotions in and feel like they don't measure up to what the world deems as strong. Well, who cares what the world thinks? Push them aside and learn to say this out loud: I am strong.