Now, I am not a huge sap, but I do have this nasty character flaw that allows me to tear up when I'm feeling rather passionate about something. It can be connected to happiness, sadness, anxiety, and of course my favorite way, laughing.
You see I think it's a little odd that I have this trait since I think others might define me as a bit of hard ass until you knew better. I don't go tearing up over every Hallmark commercial, every cute thing my kids say, or every Deliah story on the radio around Christmas. But it is what it is and last week, this trait of mine made me stabby.
The short-edited-because-I-love-my-job story is that I cried at work in front of my boss last week. A lot. Like 4 times. Yeah, it was a no good very bad week. And sure he'd seen me cry over getting the call at school that my mom only had hours to live and I needed to rush home immediately, but this was different. That was a personal cry. This was a profession cry related strictly to my job.
Dang nabbit. I retreated to my classroom and told gave myself a big 'ol slap and to get my shit together and ah, hem, "man up". Sigh. Oh gawd. I'm the reason why there is still a gender gap in the workplace aren't I? But I just couldn't help it. It was hands down the most career challenging week I've had and while yes I know it is a blip on my career, I still feel bad that I didn't have more emotional control than to tear up and eventually cry in front of my boss several times. It wasn't a cry-fest sob, but it was far from the composed, professional, I've-got-my-shit-together look I want to exhibit.
So now what? It's probably water under the bridge for him, although through prior conversations I know exactly what he thinks of criers. Now I am left to pick up the pieces, dust myself off, pull up my big girl panties and move forward like I previously had been before this gut punch event. It makes me wonder though what it does to us in the workplace as women when we cry in front of our male superior (please tell me I'm not the only one who's done this). Does it really knock us back down a rung to two? Do they immediately write us off for promotions? Does it make me appear weak? Worse yet, does it appear I'm playing my girl card?
I suppose I need to just slow down. Find relief in the fact that I am indeed human and apparently have a soul. I'm probably not cut out for the thick skin needed try my hat at politics some day because of my emotion, but hey John Boehner made it pretty far. This wasn't the first time I've cried at work, and probably won't be the last, but beating myself up over it won't solve anything but borrowing trouble. So for now, it's back to teaching and doing what I love and what I'm good at. It's not the end of the world as I know it.
"Look, I'm not suggesting that the way to get to the corner office is to cry as much as possible. Nobody is going to publish the next Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and say that crying is one of them. But I am saying that it happens. It has happened to me. It has happened to me more than once. It will happen to me again. It happens to other women. Rather than spend all this time beating ourselves up for it, let's accept ourselves. OK, I cried, life went on. And I think that's part of the message of Lean In, like we are human beings, we are emotional beings and we can be our whole selves at work."
-- Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In