As I entered my senior year and final fall semester, I found myself grunting as I saw the email notification on my phone to see that my professor in my Honors capstone class had assigned homework before the first class. The true sign that the year has started and to bust out the planner and dust off google docs, as I should probably restart my organizational skills.
The course is about reflecting on the years you’ve spent at USM and what you’ve learned both academically and emotionally. Reviewing how you grew from a timid 18-year-old first year, who in my case moved six hours away from home, to the current 21-year-old student who types before you. The assignment was to take the Gallup Clifton Strengths test. Now I enjoy personality tests and I also like to reflect. I will say in my four years of USM, I have learned a great deal about myself, how to cope and learn with a plethora of things. To which is accredited to the stress and joys of living in an intense environment of being a student and juggling multiple classes, activities and jobs.
Back to the Gallup Clifton Strengths test, the test is to highlight the top five strengths you have as an individual. The test is taken on scale, with two opposing views and statements, and you have 60-seconds to place yourself on either side or in the middle. My test results came back as “woo, communication, strategic, positivity and achiever,” none of which were surprising to me. What was surprising to me was one of the questions on the scale read, “Big cryer or tough minded.”
This opposition was shocking, what do you mean these things are on opposite sides of the scale? Since when are these two titles not mutually exclusive? I was brought back to every moment of my own tears and struggles, and was reminded of my determination. Tears are a sign of strength and exhaustion. Being brought to tears is an emotional release that some people have yet to conquer. Vulnerability is the greatest strength and in itself takes the most courage. Isn’t that what tough minded means? To have the determination to keep pushing through, to be strong and your most honest self.
Crying is not weakness, and just because you cry doesn’t mean that you have lost or are weak. It takes a lot to simply live, and when conflicts arise, it can be emotionally draining. Investing energy to sort through your emotions is being tough enough to acknowledge work has to be done to heal from traumas or painful experiences.
Take for example a recent situation I was placed in, a betrayal that was due to a lie that was ongoing for almost a month. The basis of the lie contributed to broken relationships and overstepped boundaries. The time and energy it took for me to sort though this was tremendous, it was my tough mind that was able to maturely react and communicate my feelings. However at the end of this there were a lot of tears. A lot of sobbing and a huge emotional release. But they don’t negate each other. My tears just validate my tough mind and courage to deal with the issue.
Or think of when you are studying for an exam and the stress is building up, the textbook seems to somehow get longer and you are so focused on doing well you can bring yourself to tears. All of the passion and care you have for your studies is determination, it’s being tough minded. The tears are your body validating the hard work and releasing the stress.
In the fall of last year I went through big changes, multiple moves and lost some people that I thought would be in my life in the long run. Having to be flexible and manage the idea of being a guest in a space that was not fully mine took a lot of patience for myself. The tough mind of being grateful but knowing that healing had to be done. This process brought tears. It also brought growth, and motivation that I was able to learn and move forward. That I was regaining my strength and rebuilding myself back to a place where I could see change.
Change is a scary thing. No one really likes change, it’s not something that comes easy to most people. But it is necessary to push yourself to new challenges, to be more vulnerable and express emotion. It’s scary stuff, but it makes you stronger, more tough minded, more resilient.
Scary things can also make you cry, the change and stress can make you so overwhelmed that you have to crawl into bed and cry. That just means you are ready for it, you’ve accepted it, you are just waiting for it. The anticipation is the worst part.
If it scares you, it’s the best decision for you. Don’t stay stagnant in a place that no longer allows you to grow. You deserve better.
While this test was to show the strengths you have, it made me think more about how my tears have made me the person I am. Being emotionally driven is one of my favorite things about myself.
Turns out you can be a big cryer and tough minded.