How To Cry In Front Of Someone For The First Time


  • Step 1: Find something (or nothing) to cry about
  • Step 2: Find someone to cry in front of
  • Step 3: Cry
  • Step 4: Be OK

At age 24, I can count on one hand how many people I’ve cried in front of. I’m not talking about strangers — that number is the equivalent to how many French fries I’ve consumed in my lifetime. I mean people whom I can actually name. Being born and raised in New York City, like me, you’re bound to have more than one moment of breaking down in public. Many times I’ve made my way downtown, walking fast (Vanessa Carlton style…minus the piano) tears streaming down my face, trying to make eye contact with no one while actually making eye contact with everyone. I have the same mentality about crying in public, as I do about tripping. I might be doing something wildly embarrassing, but in about five seconds I’ll turn the corner, and will never see any of those people ever again. But crying in the presences of people I actually know, that’s another story.

That raw display of emotion makes me so incredibly uncomfortable that I automatically reject even the idea of crying in front of people I know; If I’m alone, then I’m the only one who has to deal with (and/or judge) the big soggy mess I become when I cry. “Well, you’re always crying” a co-worker says when I mention crying. Do I really cry that often? Yes Cole, you are, indeed, a secret crier.

I recently cried in front of my (now) ex-boyfriend. I spent six years being single, mostly due to lack of confidence (that and being insanely hung up on someone). So being able to say “Hey, this is my boyfriend _____,” was so foreign to me. This specific cry took place at Cameo Gallery, in Williamsburg, while watching his friend’s band play.

This is the part where I mention that I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder at age 20, after suffering from depression since age 12. And have been on and off medications since then. So, cut-to: me, having a good time, yet an hour in I begin to develop this heavy weight on my chest. My thoughts begin to dart from one dark place to another, and I realize…I’m fucking sad. It’s as if one of those really bad, early 2000’s CGI tidal waves burst through the door of the venue, and washed right over me.

Soon my ex began to notice a change in me, and asked if I was okay. I said I was fine, trying not to draw any more attention than need be. And that’s when it happened…tears were coming on fast and furious (RIP Paul Walker).

I then told my ex that I ran out of my medication, and began profusely apologizing (in between tears) for ruining his night and being a burden. “You’re never a burden, and you didn’t ruin my night. I just didn’t know what was going on, you wouldn’t even look me in the eye.” I then concluded that I needed to reevaluate how I deal with my sadness. I don’t owe anyone anything, especially a detailed explanation of my emotions every second of every day, but in that moment I became aware that there was this person, who really cared about me, that just wanted to help.

I shut myself off to people who lend out a helping hand. Instead of just trying to push through my issues, painfully and silently, sometimes I just need to tap someone on the shoulder and say, “Hey, I’m fucking sad, can you hold me?” And that’s exactly what I ended up doing. He took me back to his place, watched cartoons with me, and held me in bed while I cried some more.

Down the line of dealing with depression, I lost my trust in people. I felt that they were never going to understand why, or how, I get sad, so there was no point in opening up and putting my emotions on display. When you’re left to deal with depression on your own for so long, it becomes this gigantic beast of a thing that’s often indescribable. In my worst moments I thought, No one will understand, so why even bother? That’s how isolating depression can be. No one knows what it’s like; so let me be alone in this.

I had this amazingly supportive human, that I trust, right in front of me, trying to be there for me the only way he knew how, and I was doing myself the biggest disservice not to take advantage of that, and open up. I’m not saying I’m completely changed, and that I’m ready to be that person who lets him or herself cry at the drop of a hat — I’m still trying to figure out how to walk through, and sort out my emotions. But I now know that it’s not always necessary to navigate being sad alone. Pushing people away who have the best intentions, just to isolate myself in a hole of depression, isn’t always healthy. That sometimes I need to hold that hand that’s right in front of me, and trust that things will be OK.