You know how everyone has those useless but fascinating talents? Being able to do something weird with a body part, recite all elements in the periodic table… that kind? Mine is crying on demand. Just give me a few minutes to think of some super sad event from my childhood (and there are just so many to pick from), and I’ll produce real, dramatic, guilt-tripping tears. (I know, I would have made a great soap opera actress.)
If you’d asked people to describe me when I was a child, you would have gotten two kinds of descriptions. The people who knew me peripherally would have called me “bright” or “cheerful”, and the ones who knew me on a more day-to-day basis would have immediately said, “crybaby”. In fact, my family had a variety of Tamil nicknames for me, all of which centred around the fact that I was sensitive, opinionated and cried so readily and copiously, people wondered how much water I was actually storing in my body.
I hated being called a crybaby, but I can’t really deny that I was. I cried at everything. I cried when I was scolded, chided or even very lightly admonished, I cried if people said things about me (and often, I couldn’t tell whether people were complimenting or insulting me, so this produced a lot of confused reactions), I cried when my brother and I got into fights and I need to prove to my parents that I was the victim, I cried when I lost things so my father would take pity on me and help me find them and I cried when things didn’t go my way (to be fair, this is a perfectly good reason to cry, even for adults).
I don’t want you to get the wrong idea here. Did I use crying as a tactic to get things done (even though it didn’t work on most people other than my father)? Yes. But even when they had an ulterior motive, my tears were never fake. They were genuine, honest-to-goodness tears from the bottom of my heart, and the speed with which they sprung to my eyes at any occasion was proof that I never planned to use them for nefarious purposes. The things I achieved as a result of my crying were just convenient by-products.
Funnily enough, even though I cried easily, I never shed tears at books, movies or any of the non-personal stuff people get emotional over. When Jack died icy waters in Titanic, 12-year-old me got angry at Rose for not sharing her plank, but didn’t cry. When Hrithik Roshan introduced himself as “Yash” to Shahrukh Khan’s family in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham and everyone looked like they were about to burst into tears because FAMILY EMOSHUNS, I got misty, but didn’t cry. No character death ever elicited a tear from me.
These days, I don’t cry nearly as much. The only people I get emotional around are my mother and sometimes my brother, but I chalk that up to them being the only people whose opinions I care enough to shed tears over. I do get teary-eyed a lot – it’s one of those stupid bodily functions I can’t control – but that has nothing to do with sadness. Even a regular conversation with a friend can sometimes get the tear glands secreting, and I really have no idea why.
The downside is that because there’s so much reserve water in my system now, I shed tears at really mundane stuff like an absolute sap. An episode of Modern Family where one of the usually grumpy characters does something nice, a book where bad things keep happening to good people (ahem, The Kite Runner), a dog’s death in a movie, that 10-minute introduction scene from Up, listening to Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’… boom, waterworks. I don’t full-out sob or anything, but the fact that they make me feel things when normally I wouldn’t bat an eye… it feels like an indication that I’m getting old.
Crying is not pleasant, but it can get heavy emotions off your chest. I cried a lot when I was young, but most of the time, I felt better after. As adults, we tend to keep those heavy emotions in for longer and only let them out when they get too much to bear. No one wants to be a crybaby, but it’s never a bad thing to let those tears out every once in a while, preferably alone or in the company of people who won’t judge. Of course, shedding happy tears is always a good thing and a sign that you are a sensitive human being who is moved by beautiful things.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go cry a little at the beauty of this post. 😉