Allen Mark

Putting Words to Paper. Or Your Screen.

Cryberry // What Makes You Cry?

Growing up, I was never much of a cryer. Be it because of societal pressures on boys to be masculinely stoic or because I imitated my dad who was only either overjoyed or neutral (granted, these are not mutually exclusive), my emotions were very much tempered. In my best recollection, I can remember two distinct moments of crying from the ages 10-18: coming home from school in 8th grade finding my yearbook vandalized with homophobic slurs, and one incredibly emotional late night in the 10th grade when my mom pulled me out from a deep, dark sadness. Both ultimately formed my character more than I could have ever realized in the long run (but that's for another day).

Fast forward to college. In my first year I am accepted into an a cappella group named Isang Himig (not knowing it was an a cappella group) which I initially emotionally distance myself from. Then as the year progresses, I slowly tear down walls upon walls of myself--this may have been the first group of people I allowed to see at my most vulnerable. This ramped up to the annual Pilipino Cultural Celebration (a completely student run and created play filled with a cappella and dance numbers) where amongst over 100 people, hands clasped in a circle, heads down and eyes closed, tears stream down my cheeks as I choke up singing the second line to "Amazing Grace" on my own. There I was with so many people, three-fourths of which I didn't even know, giving witness to an incredible emotional breakdown. Never had I felt anything like this in my life.

Quickly I learned that this was a regular occurrence every year at PCC, but that didn't diminish the experience for me; I was glad there was a space that allowed such vulnerability amongst a large group. Just weeks later, I bawled my eyes out yet again in a meeting with Isang Himig in as I recollected the past taxing, emotional year. Then in a huddled, sobbing mess I uttered how much the group turned me into a crybaby, but my mumbling, uncontrollable self uttered the word "cryberry" instead. Thus, a nickname was born. 

The rest of my time at UCSC was filled with many more moments like this, as if an emotional barrier kept filling, cracked, and overflowed into a sobbing flood of my thoughts, dreams, and disappointments. In the years after I graduated, I never got to experience this sense of public vulnerability again, and that's okay. Those four years had been liberating enough to allow me to accept a life where I can express any emotion without any worry of warranted ridicule.

So why am I bringing this up? I learned even more about myself just last night. I watched this video of a New Zealand wedding where the wedding party, bride, and groom performed a traditional haka. Sitting alone in my home, I suddenly felt my spine shiver, a surging shake leading from my back to my neck, flooding my eyes with tears, ending with a sudden overflowing of emotion. It was then I realized why I cry: not through sadness, but through a sudden burst of feeling overwhelmed. Let me try and recall some of the most recent moments I have cried: 

  • The aforementioned haka video: watching these peoples' emotions as culture and love come together into an intense ritual of strength.
  • Inside Out: not the sad scene when Bing Bong sacrifices himself, but at the end when Riley came home after almost running away. I'm close with my family and my sister currently lives in Minnesota, so this really hit close to home.
  • Jeff Buckley's "Lover You Should've Come Over": it is my most favorite song ever. It is a very sad song, but it's the synthesis of the organs, the guitar, and his beautifully howling voice that creates a perfect, emotionally intense work of musical art.

There are a lot of reasons people cry. Sadness is the most common form of its expression. Vulnerability is the scariest but can be the most validating way it can occur. That overwhelming feeling is probably the most emotionally rooted form. All I can take away from this is that crying is a great experience that teaches us to learn more about ourselves and empathize with others. Sadly, societal masculinity is defined as the lack of such, especially when we are all better off if we can find that feeling within each of us and have a healthy and hearty cry sometime. Do it. It feels great.