Yesterday I overheard a thought-provoking conversation. First, let me clarify. I was riding on a ski lift with two high school students, and it was hard not to listen, in such close proximity. The young lady was telling her companion an amazing story, and I was frankly relieved when she finished and he said, “You have the most outrageous dreams.” Just as I was recovering, she went on with her stream-of-consciousness to talk about one of the characters in her dream, saying that the girl in real life was such a “cryer.” She asked our liftmate if he ever cried (emphatically no) and then she told him who was a cryer that he would never guess, who goes home from class and cries every day, and so on, running down the list of their mutual friends, till we eased off the chair in different directions. All this talk about tearing up made me head straight for the thoughtfully-placed tissue boxes for which Deer Valley is famous.
Why is crying important? We all know it releases tension and clears the eyes of foreign matter, etc. But what of the psychological ramifications of crying? (I get very philosophical when I’m at high altitude.) I despised my weakness for weeping as a child when a teacher would reprimand me, and it hasn’t gotten any better, letting loose with some salty ones when I bumped elbows with, and hurt, that famous game-show host about a year ago. I was devastated, and my eyes showed it. The belittling tone with which the girl had spoken of her sobbing sister reminded me of chants of “crybaby” from my youth. But I was, and am, in good company. Just think of the abuse John Boehner suffered when he was dubbed, “Weeper of the House.” Of course, he is a male, and that was part of the reason for the criticism; men are historically stoic, or at least they’re supposed to be. Anne Kreamer, author of It’s Always Personal, referring to the difference between the sexes on this subject, said on the Today’s Working Woman segment of The Today Show this morning, “our tear ducts are anatomically different!”
In the segment, clips were shown of women who were interviewed on how they felt about emotion in the workplace, and there was much discussion about how employers should handle these apparent lapses in protocol. One woman said she liked the way she looked, all pink and flushed, when she was weepy. (I used to like that my hazel eyes turned emerald green when my floodgates opened, but soon discovered it wasn’t worth the post-puffiness.)
I’ve concluded there’s only a certain amount of control we can exert with respect to this. Whether it’s the amount of the hormone prolactin in our system, or something deeper, some of us, more than others, are hard-wired to express ourselves with waterworks. Here’s a barometer for you: watch this video, and let me know how you do . . .