Is it okay to cry in public? I say YES. This is why…
Bee phoned me this week. I answered the phone and there was a second or two of snuffling before I heard a little voice.
‘I cried at work!’ she said, snuffling a bit more. (She works at Starbucks, just to give you some context.) To be totally honest I was surprised that she hadn’t already cried at work, because she does cry a healthy amount, so I was quite impressed.
‘Oh no!’ I said. ‘It’s okay! Where are you now?’
‘I’m on the ground,’ she replied.
‘As in you’ve gone outside for some fresh air and are sat on the pavement or you’ve slid helplessly down a wall and are now lying on the floor?’ (It’s good to be clear.)
‘I’m on my lunch break,’ she said, ‘but I’ve never cried in a Starbucks before in my whole life!’
‘Seriously??’ I said. ‘I have cried loads of times in Starbucks!’ (I definitely wrote this post about not being able to find a good eggs florentine whilst sobbing quietly to myself in Starbucks in Taunton.)
‘Really?’ said Bee.
I actually find crying in public quite liberating. I don’t know if it’s my age – I’m definitely in the ‘don’t give a toss what strangers think of me’ phase of life – but I quite like that feeling of just owning your emotions, right there in a coffee shop, and everyone else just having to deal with it.
What’s so bad about crying in public after all? We’re all human aren’t we? When I cry it’s not a choice, it’s just a reflex – my body decides it can’t quite cope with containing things, so it spills out, literally, and then balance is restored. It’s a pretty efficient system when you think about it like that. A bit like I have a toilet cistern for a brain.
My absolute favourite is crying just walking along the street, especially if you don’t otherwise seem on edge – you’re not rushing somewhere, just walking normally. You’re an enigma then. This mysterious stranger just casually walking along, crying about who knows what?
Babies and toddlers don’t give a hoot about crying in public do they? Our natural state isn’t to be super anxious about hiding our emotions – we are born totally happy with making everyone know exactly what we think about things all the time. It feels a bit like we grow up being taught to supress everything, to not make a scene, and I don’t know how healthy this is.
Crying in public for me is a way to double back on this and instead to tell myself that it’s okay to feel things and, just as importantly, to feel those things in front of other people. I don’t need something terrible to have happened as an excuse either. I’m not crying because my Gran just died or anything, maybe I’m just a bit sad? Or cross? So what? I’m a human being and sometimes we have emotions.
Especially if we can’t get a decent eggs florentine.
How do you feel about crying in public? Does the very idea of it fill you with dread or are you quite happy to have a good blub in the street?