“I get so emotional, baby…” — Whitney Houston
I’ve noticed this thing lately when I’m watching my stories on the TV (read: reality competition shows, usually focused around dance or cooking) that when the inevitable person gets choked up and cries (because they never thought they’d make it this far or they never thought this competition would be this difficult or the host asks a producer-prompted emotionally-charged question) that the first thing that they often do is this:
An apology is apparently now the most acceptable first response when finding yourself overcome with emotion in a difficult time. Because GOD FORBID that we show some humanness or emotion toward each other in times that try us. Sheesh.
The truth is that we likely apologize because we know what it feels like when someone cries in front of us. It is gut-wrenching and particularly soul-crushing if there is nothing you can do about it.
And so our best assumption when we cry in front of others is that those people are feeling those same feelings of discomfort and so we apologize for putting them out. Never mind if they were the ones who prompted the feelings of sadness or joy or whatever it was that overcame us with emotion.
When we apologize for crying, I feel like we are saying: “PLEASE FORGIVE ME for making you uncomfortable with my human reaction to this situation. I apologize for being unable to control my emotions for five seconds.”
I’ve worked in different companies over the past 13 years of my career and I continue to get a fairly consistent, specific piece of feedback when review time comes up: “You can sometimes get TOO passionate and emotional when you care deeply about something.”
How is that a bad thing?
I can’t stand it when people walk through their days lackadaisical about the things happening around them. Care about your life! Be present! If something makes you mad or excited, get mad or excited about it!
Don’t be a damn robot.
And please, for the love of God, don’t apologize when you get overcome by your emotions. They prove that you are alive and I’d much rather hang with someone who has an emotional attachment to this life than someone who is so fearful to show emotions that they hide them under a rock or a bushel or wherever you might hide them.
Mars Hill founding pastor Rob Bell wrote a book called Drops Like Stars as a companion piece to a speaking tour that he did by the same name. Much of what he talked about was the topic of suffering and pain. He said something to the effect of: “Suffering is what connects us.”
We relate to others through our pain and suffering and find solace in the fact that there is someone else out there who is feeling our pain about this thing that we are experiencing right here, right now.
I hope that the next time you break down in front of someone, you find courage in the fact that they may just understand you and where you are coming from. (I’m hoping that you’re not necessarily a reality TV dancer or chef and you are speaking with a friend.) I hope that in that moment that you won’t apologize, but you will embrace the fact that emotions are a natural part of our human fiber. And I hope that the person you are with says this:
“Thank you for sharing your emotions with me.”