If You Have to Cry That's Okay
For years in the workplace, I hid all of my emotions. I strived to be 'one of the boys,' and let things that really should have bothered me roll off my back. Working in a male-dominated industry, it used to be (and still is in many cases) frowned upon to show too many emotions. Being emotional was considered being weak, I distinctly remember an old manager advising me to stop being emotional, to remove the emotion from my work. This advice was awful, however, at the time I assumed this person had my best interests at heart and decided to bottle up all emotion at the office and be the professional I was.
Around this same time, the saying 'if you have to cry go outside' was made famous by PR expert Kelly Cutrone. So much so that she wrote a book under the same title. I took this to be one of my mantras in the workplace. Don't show weakness, don't let people know when they have upset you and never ever cry. Looking back on this, I can understand why I did it. I wanted to seem professional. I tried to sound like I knew what I was doing and I just assumed that everyone was looking out for number one at the office. Looking back on this I realized how untrue this all was. There were times that I should have spoken up, I should have told someone they upset me, and I should not have let a few comments slide.
As I have progressed in my career, my feelings towards well, feelings have shifted. I no longer believe that emotions in the workplace are a negative quality and I'm no longer the woman who lets things slide. I have learned the difference between being overly emotional and being firm and allowing people to know how I feel about a specific topic. Learning this difference was somewhat of a challenge. No one wants to work with a robot, but at the same time, no one wants to work with the co-worker who breaks down at the slightest instance (trust me, I worked with this person, and it got old fast!). So, what is the fine line between the two? I found that passion is vital here. When I see myself getting worked up about a specific topic I stop and ask myself: is this something I feel strongly about? Has this personally harmed or hindered me? If the answer is yes, then I ensure I mention something or voice how I am feeling about the topic or issue. If the answer is no, then I reevaluate the situation. I lean on my emotional intelligence to help me read specific circumstances and have learned how to act appropriately. Sometimes strong emotional responses are necessary, sometimes it's best vented about over a bottle of wine with a good friend.
I have long given up my 'if you have to cry go outside' mantra and replaced it with a be in-tune with your emotions one. Some days I cry, others I laugh. At the end of the day, I read how I am feeling and check in with my gut. No one should be afraid to speak up about how they are feeling, being in touch with my emotions has made me a happier and healthier person and has given me more significant insights into who I am as an individual.