There’s something particularly embarrassing yet freeing about crying in public, especially for someone who tried so hard to shield any emotion that embodied vulnerability. Yet there I was on Lenox Avenue: face red, tears streaming, and snot running onto my overpriced American Apparel scarf. Luckily for me, New Yorkers are used to seeing everything from the extremely irate commuter to the strange street performer. So a girl walking down the street with ugly crying face didn’t seem too uncommon.
And though I type this feeling emotionally exposed while nursing irritated eyes from all the rubbing I did, I’m proud of myself. Being tough is so restricting, and I believe that each tear I let roll down my cold-stricken cheeks melted away that barrier I built. I once believed it was made of brick, but it was actually made of dry wall.
Things have been changing rapidly for my family and me lately. Those who know me personally can attest to that. Usually I would embrace this welcomingly, but this isn’t the type of change I generally crave like Lay’s potato chips. Instead, this is the type that will make you ask God to pump the breaks or maybe change routes.
During all of this I’ve never taken the time to breathe, never taken the time to heal, especially from some of the changes that hurt. I’ve had relationships fade, with some lingering bitterness. And as I look out to my future, sometimes it can be hard to laugh without fear as the Bible extols of the envied Proverbs 31 woman.
“Take it all in,” my mom constantly said as I packed my boxes, preparing to leave my family’s home in Florida for the final time.
“Yeah, yeah I see it,” I’d reply. But deep down, I kept burying those feelings of wanting to hold on to the way things used to be. I never liked long goodbyes, but my mom on the other hand possibly minored in them in college. For me, long goodbyes mean tears. Tears would mean I was fragile. And fragile, I refused to be seen as. Take it as a side effect of my pride.
But what a lesson it was for me to suddenly break on a crowded Harlem street. In between sniffles I finally admitted to God how hard this has all been. I expressed that I know my family and I are moving in the right direction and on to divine endeavors, but how sometimes doing the right thing isn’t void of trials.
Just the previous night as I said my prayers, I asked God to humble me. My pride and seemingly tough exterior have gotten in the way of so much in my life— more authentic relationships, more authentic spiritual life, and a more authentic self.
Well, as the saying goes, be careful what you ask for. You may just end up bursting into tears in public.