Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Big Girls Do Cry: It’s Okay to Feel

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

This semester, I’m taking a class called Communication and the Storied Self (taught by Dr. Williams, who is frankly one of the most genuine humans I’ve met while at UF). This class is unlike any other class I’ve taken; the entire course is centered around each student, as it relies on every student keeping a personal journal and writing in it daily. Through journaling, we explore the thoughts that haunt us and emotionally scar us in order to grow from them and eventually heal.

One of the most surreal moments of my academic career took place just this past week in Dr. Williams’ class. In the big circle we formed around the classroom, each of us shared bits of writing inspired by our journals. Half of the class wept over the stories of others; we cried as we felt for each other’s sensitive and gut-wrenching stories about our most personal “heart scars.”

For me, sharing was hard and painful. Over my heartbeat, I could hardly hear the words I recited from my journal. I sat on the cold desk in Rolfs Hall telling the story of my dad’s death; I sat and narrated the moment my life changed forever. I felt a rush of emotions, almost as if I were reliving the experience altogether. Who will walk me down the aisle, if I get married? Would he be proud of me? Would he call me every day to check in on me? Would he be one of those dads who make bad jokes and struggle to zoom in on pictures? I thought of all of this in a classroom.

I realize, now, that those emotions came flooding out of me because of the guard I have built over the years. I created a fragment in my mind to hold all of my “Do Not Think This” thoughts. In that section of my brain, I confined those memories, heartbreaks, failures and anxieties that make me vulnerable and sad. And through my experience of seeing about 25 of my classmates go through the same process, I realized that everyone does this.

We are scared to feel. We are scared to face those thoughts within us that make us sad, angry, anxious or melancholy. Why? Because we are taught that “big girls don’t cry.” We are taught to repress sadness and emotion instead of allowing ourselves to feel in order to heal. I, through growing more in touch with what I feel, now recognize the refreshing feeling after having a good cry as my body quite literally thanking me for letting go and just feeling.  

I would have never thought that I would be strong enough to share such a painful and sensitive story in a room full of strangers, or write an article about it. But through doing so, I think I grew stronger. The ability to share pain and empathize with the pain of others has brought a new sense of power within me – one that is liberating and comforting at the same time.

Image Credit: fxgallery.com