CRIER NARRATIVE: I am not a crier

Ms. Sarah-Anne Lanman, Adviser

I am not a crier.

(and no, that is not a pun).

I don’t like when people cry in public. Or, really, I don’t like when women cry in public, because I feel like it gives people a reason to dismiss them as emotional and irrational. About five years ago, I cried in front of one of my classesand then I swore I would never do it again. And I held to that promise.

But thenthe pandemic hit.

The sheer amount of work that’s been required to teach simultaneously in-person and online has been overwhelming. And what does one do when they are pushed to the limit and all coping mechanisms escape them? Like a toddler, they cry. Like a toddler, during first semester, I would just cry and cry. Sometimes I wouldn’t even know there was a lump in my throatI’d open my mouth, and instead, tears would come out my eyes.

The simplest things could get me: “How are you?” The simplest tasks got me: updating Blackboard would often happen through a sheen of watery eyes. My yearbook rep tried to give me some friendly advice, and it got me: I sobbed so hard, I had to wipe the snot off my desk.

I held to my previous promise. I rarely cried in class. 

But sometimes my eyes would well up and I’d start to feel my mask getting wet. And then something even worse happened: I learned that, behind a screen, behind glasses, behind a mask, no one can see you cry.

So that’s how it went, first semester, each week, sometimes each day, buckets of tears. Sometimes they were rational (a friend asked at lunch how I’m doing and I’d be honest), dangerous (I’d call a friend while I’m driving home and I wouldn’t really be able to see through the tears) or totally insane (I thought the lid to my Lil Bub tupperware had been recycled). Really, I cried harder than anything when someone, usually someone very well meaning would say, “Don’t worry—it’ll get better.”

And then, second semester, it did.

Now that we are halfway through second semester and a year into the pandemic, I don’t cry over school anymore. I want to cry, but I’m blocked. I want to cry over how isolated I feel from my students. I want to cry when I see only half my students have completed assignments. I want to cry—weep, really— over the immense pride I feel for my publications students, who have produced exceptional work under the worst of circumstances.

I weirdly lack control over my emotions, Now I often well up with tears outside of school. I cry sympathy tears when homeowners blubber over their remodel reveal on HGTV. I cry when driving by the same dead raccoon, whose fat body reminds me of my elderly cat sleeping, sitting along the side of the road for weeks and weeks. I cry listening to the news and hearing people describe, in pain, what it’s like to lose a loved one to covid. I cry over my dead grandmother, who passed two years ago now, in the before times. I cried writing this column, silently, while my students were supposed to be working—but I suspected most were not.

I have to hope it’ll get better soon. But I have a lump in my throat.