I have a confession to make; I’ve cried every day for the past month, and honestly, I think I’ve still got a few weeks left in me. Now, when I say cry, I don’t mean sobbing, à la Meg Ryan on the phone to Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally when she finds out that Joe is getting married . . . okay, maybe once or twice, but who’s counting? No. It’s more of a soft, subtle kind of cry.
For the most part, it’s the everyday mundane things that have been getting to me, moments that most people might not even think twice about. A joyful laughing cry, when the strong female characters on my favorite TV shows have a win in their career and/or friendship. An eye stinging drop on the train, when I read a sweet and encouraging text. A head-tilting well-up when I see a couple holding hands and being in love. A throat-burning sniffle when the book I’m reading just really hits home for me and a twinkle, in the dressing room of a GAP, when I find a really great skirt.
It’s these moments and so many more that have become unforgettable to me this past month, because each time I swipe a droplet from my eye, I stop to think about why I’m crying. What is happening that is making me feel this strongly, that the urge to cry is so overwhelmingly powerful that I can’t stop it?
How I got here
I should add that I recently made a huge life change; moving from New York, (the place I know I want to be) to Chicago (the place I need to be right now). I made this huge, life-changing move because I was stuck. Stuck in a rut, in my life, my career, my friendship and my love life. I was going nowhere, and fast. Being in a rut in your mid-twenties is like slapping yourself in the face repeatedly, i.e. pretty stupid and it kind of hurts.
What was I doing wasting my youth away? I’m young and I’m scrappy. I don’t have that many obligations or responsibilities. Of those few that I do have, one is to live my life to the fullest. To take every opportunity that comes my way to be better, do better and to seek out my passions. But I wasn’t doing that. I wasn’t really doing anything, day in and day out, and I was miserable. Working at a job that I didn’t really like, living in a ridiculous apartment that was definitely not worth its weight in rent, and dating a guy who couldn’t care less about my life. I was hanging out with people who didn’t make me happy, and barely seeing the ones who did.
What the hell kind of life was I leading and why did I let myself live it for so long? This is the question I asked myself before making the life-altering decision to leave the place I had called home for the past three years. The place I knew I wanted to live. The place that felt so much like home that it made my heart hurt to even think about leaving. But I had to because living in the city you love when you don’t love yourself doesn’t do anyone any good, especially yourself.
I needed to learn to love my life as much as I loved the Williamsburg Waterfront. I needed to appreciate my health and happiness as much as I did seeing the Chrysler Building every day on my commute to work, and until I could do those things, I couldn’t truly be happy.
This new chapter
I’ve been in Chicago for, yep you guessed, about a month now, and the tears are crashing down, like the waves of Lake Michigan on the shore. Every day I have a brief moment, or several, of sadness, joy, desperation, anxiety, revelation, or fear, which is shortly followed by big, salty, unstoppable tears.
After about a week I realized that I needed to take control of myself and rein it in because walking around a new place sobbing and surrounded by strangers was not the welcome to the city I was hoping for. I found that if I stopped to let myself live in that moment of emotion, really let it out and just feel everything, then ask myself “Why did this make me cry? What is happening inside my brain and my heart right now?” I would almost always learn a valuable lesson about my life, my healing process, and my journey.
When I cry while watching TV, it’s always with a smile that I wipe away the emotional overflow. These shows represent a life that I strive for myself. They are strong, independent, working women and when I see them thrive, I cry, because these goal-getters are fighting for their dreams. They’re making things happen and they aren’t apologising for their success or their drive. It’s what makes them stronger. When I see my fellow ladies crushing it at friendship and life, I cry, because I want that too. I want to live near my closet friends and have a heart to heart over coffee.
But for now, I’m subjected to Instagram and text messages, as my closest girlfriends are all scattered out across the globe. I cry because I see the life I want and I cry because I know that one day I can have that too. If I believe in myself enough, if I fight with reckless abandon for my dreams, if I hold on to my friends for dear life, even as they float further away from me in distance. I only need to believe in my worth and myself and pick up the phone to call a dear friend for these dreams to come true.
The role of friends and family
My friends and family are my lifelines. They are my saving grace and are truly the reason I have found the strength and courage to try something new; to leave the life I had known for so long, for a life I needed to discover. When I get a message or a note, just knowing that they are thinking of me, it makes my heart swell so big that it aches with love and gratitude for these people. I cry because I love them. I cry because I appreciate them and I cry because I hope they know this.
If I didn’t have these people in my life, I think I would still be stuck wondering who I was and having no hope for the future. I still have no idea what I’m truly meant to be doing with my life, but I have a few ideas and I have the support and encouragement from the people that matter most to keep on digging until I find out. They are the light I carry with me in my heart when I’m searching the depths of my soul, they bring me back to reality and I’m not sure if I can ever truly thank them enough for how much their belief in me gets me through the day.
I cry about my sad single life. I sob into my pillow about why he didn’t love me, what I could have done differently and why he didn’t care. But this doesn’t do me any good. When I do that, I’m letting him win. When I put myself down because a dumb guy couldn’t see my true worth, I’m only hurting myself. I’m a fiercely loyal and caring person and I know that one day I will find love. I have to, and that thought keeps me going, even through the heartbreak and sad times because I know that one day it has to come.
Don’t get me wrong, these moments are like beacons in the dark, because I’m mostly thinking, what’s wrong with me, why am I always better at being a “buddy” than a “baby,” but those thoughts make me sad and they set me back on my journey to self-discovery. I tell myself in these times that I’m not ready for love. I need to love myself and my life and my career and my choices before anyone else can love me too. Sure, some people find the ‘one’, and they help them accomplish those things, they find who they are together. But I don’t think that I’m one of those people.
I have always been very independent and I think that in order to be with someone, I need to first know exactly who I am and live in that knowledge happily and contently. I don’t want someone else to find me, or fix me, or make me better. I’m my own hero, the knight in shining armor of my own story. And the person I end up with, well, he’s the man that can meet me halfway with mutual admiration and appreciation of who we are, both separately, and together. I don’t need a man to complete my life; I need a man to compliment it.
The ‘silly’ reasons
Now all of these seem like reasonably good reasons to cry, but I have also cried while eating at a Sweetgreen because it reminded me of New York and the Flatiron Building and eating dinner with my friends. I have also cried at an ice cream shop because they didn’t have any vegan ice cream and it made me long for Vanleeuwen’s and their homemade sundaes with coconut whipped cream.
I’ve sat in a park with tears in my eyes at the beauty of nature and all that the world has to offer. I sniffle for our planet when I see people slinging plastic bags over their shoulder’s without knowledge or concern of the awfulness of it. I cried tears of happiness when I found a petite sized long flowy skirt in my size for fifty percent off at The Gap because that never happens, and when I feel like I look good, I actually do feel better.
Basically, I’m a crying machine and I should probably be studied as a cautionary tale. But seriously, these tears have made me think, they have made me realize I needed to change my life because there was a whole world out there waiting for me that I hadn’t experienced yet.
From tears comes growth
I can’t help but think of the person I would be right now, without having all these emotions bursting out from inside of me. Being an emotional wreck and crying at the drop of a hat is not necessarily a skill I ever wanted to possess. But, now that I have it, I’m extremely appreciative and thankful for the ability to be so raw and emotional with myself. Without this pain and self-doubt, I wouldn’t have had the courage to take a good hard look at my life and realize I didn’t like what I saw.
It took disliking my life to realize I deserved to find, and fight for, an exceptional one. A life worth living. One that I enjoyed and was happy to live in. Maybe not every day. But one in which I was willing to take the good with the bad. Keep moving forward, because I knew I was headed towards something better. Believing that the best is yet to come and striving for that feeling always.
A final thought
So, to all my fellow criers, I say, cry on, my friend, cry on. Cry until you find your purpose. Cry until you love your life. Until you have no idea why you’re even crying. And to my emotionally stable people out there, maybe a good cry or a single emotive tear might do you some good.
Don’t ever be afraid to express yourself. Your feelings matter more than you know, and being able to recognise that is a true gift.