Saturday, August 9, 2014

Don't stop those tears

Today I read an article that touched a very sensitive, though healed, wound deep inside me. It took me back to that time when I was 21 years old – my first tryst in a professional environment. It was a 3 month internship with one of the leading Advertising houses in Bangalore. I had great fun during those 3 months. There were a lot of challenges but it was all very exciting. I loved going back to office on Mondays. I was the starry eyed girl curious about everything, hungry to learn and work. My biggest goal during that internship was to convert that into a job so that I don’t have to depend on my college for a placement.

At the end of the internship, my boss (the branch head) wrote a letter of appreciation for me which had mentions of all the projects I had completed during my time there. And a few lines about my personality. In that he had written something like S is blah blah blah (good things) though needs to show enthusiasm at work. That last line was like a sword through my 21 year old heart. I did not understand what that was supposed to mean. Enthusiasm? I worked so much, more than any other intern that time. How could he say that I lacked enthusiasm – when I was the one running around getting things done, asking questions, curious to learn everything I could lay my hands on. I was severely heartbroken with that letter. This not only meant that my internship would not lead to a job, but also the letter was a stinker for future job prospects. I must have read that letter a thousand times and decided that I needed to talk about it to my boss – at least to understand what he meant by freakin’ enthusiasm. 

So I went to his cabin and asked and in the process shed big dollops of tears and put my palms on my face and CRIED. Now when I think back to that moment, I smile at my naivety. But that time it was a moment of ‘crisis’ : ) What my boss meant to say was that I need to ‘display’ my enthusiasm more. The important word there was ‘display’ and how that enthusiasm needs to come alive to infect others too. Now I was not that person who is animated around others; three months was definitely not enough for me to break the walls around my space. At least not that time. After seeing me cry, he edited that line to make it clearer. Haha. And I must point out that he did hire me after I completed my course :)

The article that I read today was about crying at your workplace – whether it is taboo or a sign of strength. And that made me think. I am prone to crying, yes, mostly happy tears. I don’t cry sad tears at the drop of a hat, but I do feel a wave of emotions (it literally feels like a huge wave) for something I feel very strongly about. For example in the story I just narrated, getting a job and becoming financially independent was an urgent need of the hour.

After that particular incident, being ashamed of crying at a ‘professional’ environment, I decided never to cry again like a child. I was after all, the young-independent-working professional I always wanted to be. But the first six months of my work were absolutely horrible. I had the worst team, the worst client and the worst boss in the whole world. And that taught me a lot. Those six months were like three years of work experience – every day a trial, every day a disappointment and the struggle to deal with all of that. I would be on the verge of tears and then ‘display’ my armor of strength pretending to be strong. There were days I would run to the washroom to vent out, to shed those tears, wash my face and come back on the battle ground. 

Every day I wanted to quit but there was a thriving force, a voice that did not want to give up. It was a hell of a shocker (pun completely intended) after studying for 5 years. I couldn’t believe that the place of my dreams was that. My self esteem was torn to pieces and stomped over ruthlessly. But as dramatic it may sound, I came out of that crisis, reborn like a phoenix. Things took a turn and became splendid – great client, great team, great boss, lot of good work, appreciation, recognition and fun.

Tears have made me ashamed of myself at one instance and also acted as a source of strength at another time. I don’t think tears are for losers. What you do after shedding those tears is what matters.


  1. You did a phoenix!
    I dont cry easily...I do that mostly alone .
    There is nothing wrong in crying.

  2. The only emotion I usually display at work is of hunger...for food..Like every hour.. and I steal food from my a display of love...and of course hunger..hail hydra

    1. you to do that!! I have also been at the receiving end of that 'display of love' :D

  3. > I decided never to cry again like a child
    I have a self-illustrated version of "Sophie's World".
    This is a good book to start on in the list of 16.

    One of the themes in this book is that only philosophers and children truly experience the sense of wonder in this world. So why not cry as a child?

    "A philosopher never gets quite used to the world. To him or her, the world continues to seem a bit unreasonable — bewildering, even enigmatic. Philosophers and small children thus have an important faculty in common. You might say that throughout his life a philosopher remains as thin-skinned as a child. So now you must choose, Sophie. Are you a child who has not yet become world-weary? Or are you a philosopher who will vow never to become so?"

    But it is difficult to be so open in front of people, so here is a funny anecdote to make light of it.

    Me, myself, was in an emotional conversation with someone earlier this year. I was talking about something causing me pain, and how only faith could resolve the root cause problems. She said, "It's OK to cry about it." I fought it back with all I could, it was not the right place to so so.

    Shortly thereafter an earthquake rattled the building. But this is not an earthquake area, it's a one in a 50 year type of occurrence here. I would be curious to know if she made any connection between the depth of the conversation and the earth moving, as I did.

    > and the worst boss in the whole world ...

    Me too - I think we can all relate to this problem. But they can never be as bad as the 3 bosses in the movie, "Horrible Bosses". It's a bit unusual, but if you want a good hearty laugh it could be just what the doctor would order.

    1. Yes, I will read Sophie's world. I had it confused with Sophie's choice.

      I believe we must not lose the childlike wonder within us. There is always so much to know and learn.

      I have watched Horrible Bosses :) it was funny. I believe there is a part 2 coming at the end of this year.

  4. You're not the first person to mix up Sophie's World and Sophie's Choice :-?

    Strange that, S.C. never had anything like the worldwide appeal that S.W. has. The English version of S.W. is still on the bookshelves of my local bookshops, 20 years after first publication.

    My first impression of S.C. (as per how I précised it below) was that it was a bit bleak, but I put it on my kindle anyway (marvellous contraption this, it can store more than a lifetime's worth of books in your own personal library that can go everywhere with you - the trouble is that I add books 10x faster than I read them) to get back it to later ...

    "Sophie is the survivor of Nazi concentration camps, who has found a reason to live with Nathan, a sparkling if unsteady American Jew obsessed with the Holocaust. They befriend Stingo, the movie's narrator, a young American writer new to New York City. But the happiness of Sophie and Nathan is endangered by her ghosts and his obsessions.
    Sophie eventually reveals that her father was a Nazi sympathizer. Sophie's lover, Józef, who lived with his half-sister, Wanda, was a leader in the Resistance. Wanda tried to convince Sophie to translate some stolen Gestapo documents, but Sophie declined, fearing she might endanger her children. Two weeks later Józef was murdered by the Gestapo, and Sophie was arrested and sent to Auschwitz with her children."

    But, as you wrote in your comments on "The Illicit Happiness of Other People", how a book appeals to you changes with your own life experiences. When I read the introduction that William Styron himself wrote (below), it has some synchronicity with "Illicit Happiness" don't you think?

    "William Styron Sophie's Choice
    First published in 1979
    To the Memory of My Father (1889–1978)

    Wer zeigt ein Kind, so wie es steht? Wer stellt es ins Gestirn und gibt das Maâ des Abstands ihm in die Hand? Wer macht den Kindertod aus grauem Brot, das hart wird,--oder läât ihn drin im runden Mund so wie den Gröps von einem schönen Apfel?... Mörder sind leicht einzusehen. Aber dies: den Tod, den ganzen Tod, noch vor dem Leben so sanft zu enthalten und nicht bös zu sein, ist unbeschreiblich.
    Von der vierten Duineser Elegie --Rainer Maria Rilke

    ... je cherche la région cruciale de l'âme où le Mal absolu s'oppose à la fraternité. -- André Malraux, Lazare, 1974

    Who'll show a child just as it is? Who'll place it within its constellation, with the measure of distance in its hand? Who'll make its death from grey bread, that grows hard,--or leave it there, within the round mouth, like the choking core of a sweet apple?... Minds of murderers are easily divined. But this, though: death, the whole of death,--even before life's begun, to hold it all so gently, and be good: this is beyond description! From the fourth Duino Elegy -- Rainer Maria Rilke

    ...I seek that essential region of the soul where absolute evil confronts brotherhood. -- André Malraux, Lazare, 1974"

  5. What a lovely read! And so proud of the way you used a perceived weakness to strengthen yourself!

    1. :) :) :)

      Thank you! Coming this from you. . .it indeed made my day :)

  6. What a great inspiration you have become to all those people who are going through similar circumstances and to all those who probably would go through at some point of their professional lives.
    As you believe, tears are not for losers. What you do after shedding those tears is what matters the most. And I can't agree more...
    And congratulations for becoming a strong girl and emerging as a WINNER. :)

    1. I am glad you saw inspiration in this. Thank you :)


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