Personal Growth
Comments 19

Why I Wish People Would Stop Telling Me to Develop a Thicker Skin

Growing up, I heard it a lot. “You need to grow a thicker skin if you want to survive in this world!” Most likely this was said to me as a I sat blubbering or drooling in tears because I just watched a pigeon with one leg hobble across the street.

The truth is, I bruise easily. Emotionally, mentally, and physically. I’m the human version of what a peach would look like if it sprouted legs and wandered out into a forest shouting what a nice night for some socializing hey is that a hungry looking wolver–

And over the years, yes, I’ve learned to be tougher. I can stand my ground better than I used to, I am more solid in knowing myself and therefore knowing when someone is treating me unfairly, and I have walked away from people who make me feel unloved. But still…..still I cry easily.

If I am upset, I cry. If I’m angry, I cry. If I’m hungry, excited, sad, confused, frustrated, happy, nervous, or tired, I will more likely than not cry. I’m an insta-crier.

But here’s the thing. Over the years I’ve basically been taught that crying equals weakness and I need to learn to stop and it’s something to be embarrassed of and the second you start crying you lose all credibility. Some people have vocalized they aren’t a fan of my crying. I’ve had people tell me it’s annoying, manipulative, or useless.

And here’s the thing: it’s taken me almost thirty years to say fuck that.

Maybe this is a form of denial or self-image distortion or like when the kid in the sandbox says I LIKE that nobody wants to play with me, it means I have all this sand to myself, but I’ve finally gotten to the point where I see my sensitivity and crying as a strength.

It takes a shit ton of strength and courage to be a sensitive person in this world. To feel everything, to feel empathy and confusion and concern for where we are going in life and how there are so many people in this world in pain. It takes incredible courage to face the difficulties in your life, to feel them, and to still get up in the morning and decide to do it all again.

You can learn to block it all out. Everything. You can learn to ignore how something affects you, ignore the sadness of what it means to be human, and ignore the perpetual confusion of existence, but then what is the fucking point? I’m not saying you have to be crying all the time to be an empathetic and sensitive person. Some of the most stoic people I know are the most compassionate. But what I am saying is there is a difference between choosing to acknowledge your sensitivity versus seeing it as a weakness and trying to hide it.

The man I am marrying is also a sensitive person, as in he genuinely cares about other people and how is actions affect others. I was once helping his mother cook dinner and I mentioned how gentle he is with their family dog. “He’s always been that way,” she said, stirring a pot of boiling water.

“Both my sons, actually. They were always the ones teachers put new students with on their first days.”

I commented on how that didn’t surprise me and she quickly said, “but it always worried me. I was always worried about them because they were so sensitive.”

It makes sense, right? That we want the people we love to not be hurt, to not be bullied, and to not be lost in the harsh edges of what lies outside our front door. But I would rather show my strength through being kind and sensitive and vulnerable than through hardness and ignoring what I am feeling.

I would rather my future, hypothetical-if-I’m-lucky-enough-to-have-them, children be large and brave peaches wandering this earth in search of truth and beauty, just bulbous and gorgeous in their sunshine ripeness.

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19 Comments

  1. I love this. It made me smile AND feel like crying. I feel the need to cry a lot. I just don’t let myself do it. In my opinion, being a crier is not a bad thing but crying in front of people who don’t know you can be concerning for them and most people also don’t know how to handle crying.Like what do you do? I personally don’t like being held or comforted so if i were to cry in front of people, even if they did know me….all they could do is stand there and watch.

    • Haha this is so true! One of my best friends gets so awkward whenever I cry and we end up laughing because she usually slowly asks “do you….want some water?” Thank you for reading and for your smile-inducing comment :)

  2. I can so relate to this. “Get over it” “Toughen up” and many other phrases. They all hurt. I feel like I’m doing something wrong. But reading your blog piece made me realise I can tell them to fuck off and I can just carry on being me. Thank you.x

  3. This should be a movement – “Cry More!”
    I’m tired of hiding my crying when I’m moved by a movie, because I don’t want the other patrons to see my tears (weakness).
    Like you, I’ve been told to toughen up. I didn’t like how it felt when I climbed into my protective tough skin. It just made it easier for people to mistreat me. Even people I loved, that loved me. Acting like the things people say don’t hurt you, makes them think it’s ok to tease you in that way. I say it’s not ok, and us brave peaches must stick together! Bravo!

  4. I love this post. My former imposter doctor used to tell me all the time I think ‘you need some tough skin on this one’, ‘i think thicker skin is required’ That is Grandpa advice it’s not real advice. It’s something a guy at the bar tells you, For people with Anxiety and Mental Illness it makes us extra sensitive we can’t change that but we can see the good in being sensitive. It’s good to feel more and care more. I cried a few weeks ago over a hero of mine that died he was a wrestler. My sister said it was the most emotional and upset she seen me in my life. I don’t think anyone should see it as a weakness that I loved the wrestler Roddy Piper. Just shows I am a caring person. There is nothing wrong with crying it’s normal and fine.

  5. This is lovely and I married a sensitive man 33 years ago who looks after me and cries when he watches the children been put to bed in Minions. It isn’t a weakness it is a strength – we need yin and yang in this world of Trumps. If we saw someone with cerebral palsy shaking, would we tell them to toughen up a bit and stop shaking. It is just as ludicrous to tell mentally ill people, like me, to just snap out of it.

  6. This post was so relatable for me; I too bruise easily. But you’re right, it doesn’t make us weak, it makes us brave! Because despite being sensitive and bruising easily, we still go out and face the world every day as anyone else would. Beautiful ending to the post also. Just… lovely.

    • Ah, thank you so so much for writing such a beautiful comment and for sharing. I appreciate it (and keep facing the world!)

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