Boys don’t cry enough
I’ve just been crying at my desk. I can recommend it. The deregulation of work is also a deregulation of our states of mind, sending an open house invitation to chaos, fear, anger and their BFF, anxiety. Workplaces are really stressful. Only rich people still hold the sentimental idea that we are not suffering a mental health crisis at work. That’s why it’s sometimes so hard to work out the difference between privilege and low IQ.
I share an office with four other people and we’re about to introduce bunk beds so you’d think I’d have the dignity not to drown the keyboard in my despair. There is a huge shame attached to showing your emotions at work. That, and the neon sign that seems to get lodged above your head flashing “really embarrassing, run”.
Crying in public is not a luxury that many men feel they can afford. I’m not a big fan of sexual stereotyping but when was the last time you saw a man cry? It can’t be that you don’t feel like it. Suicide is the second highest killer of men under 35. This is an extraordinary situation for us to be in and something actually worth crying about. It means that there are many men who can’t express what they feel and therefore allow other people to know them and help them.
I used to work with miners and oil workers (machos anyone?) and as a woman it was a mixed bag. True, a lot of the brilliant things I ever said in meetings were attributed to the men sitting next to me – a cliché you might allow me on the basis of it being true – but being a weird creature in that context I was able to show my feelings without throwing anyone into an existential crisis. It did take me a decade to learn this, having listened to the internal voice that said it would be the end of my professional life if I had a little sob. As a result I spent an unfeasible amount of grown up time crying in toilets, and I have a 200 page manuscript in my garage entitled “The Worst Toilets in the World” to prove it (top place going to the two communal toilets servicing 400 people in a housing estate in Jinja, Uganda).
What changed was not me reaching a mature state of self acceptance, rather I just didn’t have the time to find a lockable door every time I felt like a blub. And as my crying confidence grew it just felt right to go for a more classy environments, and I can proudly share with you that I have cried in some truly breath-taking locations.
I’m not saying that crying will protect you from the knuckle ride of surviving your workplace, but it will make you feel a whole lot better. It will also make you more attractive to women if that helps. Gentlemen, you’re no good at crying because you simply haven’t put in the hours to be at the top of your game. Start practicing now and you could get really good at it.
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