So there’s this old song that I remember from the opening of Dirty Dancing (one of my favorite movies as a child, so just try to follow me here). It’s called, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. It popped into my head recently because I went through a situation that brought me a few unexpected tears plus a complementary wave of shame to go with them.

To give you a quick synopsis, I dated a guy for a short time and then, for reasons I’ve accepted I’ll never understand, things just kind of fell off track and came to an end. For the first few days afterward, I was legitimately unaffected. I told myself how accomplished I am and what great qualities I have and how little one person matters when I have so much going for me. Standard stuff.

And then a few days later, things just changed. When I noticed my eyes getting wet one day, my immediate thought was, What? Why on earth are you crying? You’re supposed to be strong and strong people don’t cry…especially not over boys. But I couldn’t help it. I realized my heart felt like it had lost something. Not so much the guy, but that ideal of what could have been. When that image got shattered, it seems like the falling pieces left a few surface cuts on my heart and man. did. they. hurt.

But because I am, in fact, a strong woman, I hid that pain like a dirty sock. Nobody in my life knew what I was going through and I felt like I had to keep it that way. What would my friends think if they knew I let some guy get to me? Or that actual tears had been coming from my eyes? And then I wondered, Why do I feel so ashamed?

Finally I realized it. There’s an interesting trend in America where brushing things off and not caring is the cool thing to do. Songs like “Problem” by Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea and “I Really Don’t Care” by Demi Lovato and Cher Lloyd seem to promote indifference to those who have hurt you.  And then, as women of color, we are often force fed an additional persona. The persona of the strong, independent black woman who doesn’t need any man to support her. I had to decide, is it possible to be that person and also shed a tear when you get hurt?

The short answer is yes. I looked at myself and my situation and tried to figure out WHY I was upset. Was it out of weakness? Stupidity? No. It’s because I’m a person.

I’m a person who proudly wears her heart on her sleeve and is open and willing to be emotionally intimate with others.

The downside there is the fact that, yes, it means sometimes I’ll get hurt, but that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

The strong, independent black woman doesn’t have to stay that way by shutting people out. You can gain strength from letting people in, embracing the full range of feelings that person inspires, and then letting yourself mourn the loss once they are gone. There is power in understanding your emotions and accepting that pain can play a huge role in building up resilience.

So, what’s the moral of the story here? Well first…big girls CAN and should cry. And also, life is too short not to let your heart run wild. So don’t hold back.

Credits: A National Acrobat

Published by Shari

Shari is a singer/actress working full time to support her dreams. She has a BA in Journalism and an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. She's passionate about news, animals, dessert, and all forms of entertainment from music to movies, television and theatre.Though she's not technically unchose, Shari is still blessed in that she is able to pursue the things that make her come alive. Follow her on Twitter @ShariPMusic.

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