I like to think of myself as a strong woman. I mean, it’s not just that I *like* to think that, but when we look at the facts, I have proven to be pretty strong in my life. I’m rather independent and, even if I’ve been extremely fortunate in my existence, I believe that I have always done a good job at overcoming adversity.
But I never said I did all that with a lot of dignity. The truth is, much like Cameron in his adorable snowman sweater, I feel too much, and I am constantly crying. It can be tears of joy, sadness, cuteness, heartbreak, anger, frustration, I could go on for hours.
The reason why I decided to write about this today is that my boyfriend just left for a week of vacation with his family, and I couldn’t join them because I have to get back to work this week. This morning, I dropped him off at his parents’ so they could all depart together, and after I drove away, I cried for the whole ride home. Why? It’s pretty silly when you think about it. My boyfriend and I have spent the whole summer together, and I knew it would come to an end at some point. Mama’s gotta bring home the bacon. I mean, sure, I would have loved to join them on vacation, or even stay here with my man for my last few days of freedom for the year. But it’s not a huge deal, and any outsider would have thought I was a lunatic if they saw me this morning, sobbing uncontrollably in my car, just because I will be apart from my boyfriend for a little week. Plus, he and I are apart every work week during the semester, so it shouldn’t be a foreign feeling for me. But if I’m being completely honest here, I still cry every time I leave his apartment to go to work. I know it makes me come off as needy and silly, but I just can’t help it. When I’m upset, that’s my coping mechanism: I cry. By now, my boyfriend is used to it and knows how to deal with me when I’m being a huge baby. I’m also pretty accustomed to letting the tears drop and hoping they stop soon. But there are so many things that induce my crying that I can’t exactly avoid it.
- Good news. Yup. Good news make me cry. When my advisor told me I passed my exam and could move on to the PhD program, I cried. When I found out that my boyfriend was accepted into an MBA program a couple weeks ago, I cried again. (Yeah, all my examples involve graduate programs, it’s pretty lame, but that’s all I could think about right now.)
- Puppies. Or any cute animal, really, but puppies hold a special place in my heart. Show me a video of swarming puppies and you will make my face drip (I know, sexy expression). Come to think of it, it was probably a mistake to move in next to a dog park.
- Cute father/son moments. Last night, we watched an episode of Modern Family and there was an amazing moment between Jay and his son Mitchell. Next thing I knew, BOOM. Waterworks.
- Weddings. Well, I haven’t been to many real-life weddings, because my friends are, like me, grad students who need to be called ‘Doctor’ before they can make any huge life commitment. But weddings in TV shows, OH BOY. I believe I told you about my tears when Michael delivered his vows to Jane in Spanish.
- Thinking about the day I saw my dad cry. I mean, no explanation needed here.
- Thinking about my little dog. Oh man, I’m getting misty already. I might tell you about this adorable angel some other day, but long story short, I got a little dog when I was 5 years old, and she lived until I was 21. She was my companion, my partner in crime, and I am still not over her passing away (even if she had an amazing, long life). OMG I really didn’t want this post to take this sad turn, but I should have seen it coming. (By the way, I’m crying as I’m typing this. This shows you how serious the situation is.)
- Thinking about the good ol’ times. For instance, thinking about my first day in Delaware. Or my last day in Delaware. Or the day I met my boyfriend. (I need to stop writing.)
- Unfair situations/injustice. Again, no explanation needed. Frustration over someone else’s (or my own) tragedy always leads to tears.
- Little kids hugging their stuffed animals. Okay, okay, I know I’m not supposed to be a kid person, but this particular cute situation gets me every time. I once teared up at Trader Joes because I saw a tiny little boy hugging his stuffed hedgehog like there was no tomorrow.
- When my boyfriend writes me letters. Yeah, this is taking a really cheesy turn.
- When someone is saying hurtful things to my face. Alright, this is probably the most childish thing EVER, and it’s a big problem. Here’s an example: during my defense for my 1st Masters, in France, things got rough. French university is extremely demanding, and it is not easy to get good grades. And even when you do, professors LOVE to break your spirit; it’s their favorite sport. So, after dedicating months and months of my life to my thesis, I had to go to my defense. My committee was composed of my advisor, and one of my professors, who was usually always on my side. Well, what do you know, they both decided to be super hurtful that day. They both ganged up on me and kept saying that I had conducted ‘sloppy research’ (which was *probably* true, but still hurtful, and I wasn’t given a heads-up on the whole thing, since everyone had told me I was good to go). It took everything I had not to burst in tears in the middle of their little spiel. There was a huge knot in my throat and it was very difficult to speak, because I feared that I would just cry. The funny thing is that they still gave me a good grade and I passed, but the whole ordeal made me so emotional that I let it all out as soon as I exited the room. I cursed myself for being so sensitive, and hoped that I would grow wiser and more mature soon (surprise surprise, I didn’t). That’s why -among other reasons- I am frightened every time I have to talk to my advisor: what if he says something awful about my work, and I feel like crying? Grad students are subjected to so much scrutiny that you gotta have thick skin. And I mean, I can handle it, and criticism makes me work harder. But the very moment of the criticism is tough, because my tear ducts have a mind of their own.
Right there with you, Jess.