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.