Life as the textile expert at a regional history museum

Monday, August 31, 2015

Crying at Work

A couple weeks ago, the New York Times published a searing article about the work culture at One of the quotes that stood out was this:

“Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

Wow. Rough.

I was talking to Olivia about the article though, and she seemed less affected by the statement. She said: "Yeah, but haven't most people cried at work at least once?"

Now, maybe there are those among you who are like, "No way! I've never lost it at work. Your job must be terrible." You also might be someone who doesn't cry much in general, so the idea of getting leaky tear ducts at work sounds sort of foreign.

But even a job you love can be difficult and stressful, and some of us cry more easily than others. The emotions may not even be work-related, but sometimes it comes out during working hours.

Routine work crying can be a sign that your job or some other part of your life is making you emotionally unhealthy, but an occasional good cry can be a therapeutic release that helps maintain emotional health.

As Tina Fey wrote in Bossypants: “Some people say, “Never let them see you cry.” I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.”

So where am I going with all of this?

Well, last week I cried at work and it was great. The sob-worthy topic? My beloved choir is ending. I realize how dramatic this sounds, but I'm basically going through the stages of grief. Not in any sort of order, but cycling through a mixed bag of denial, bargaining, acceptance, depression, and anger. On Tuesday, at work, I decided I needed to have a good cry about it. Fortunately for me, I have more appealing options than a discreet meltdown at my desk or a bathroom stall.

For this occasion, I took a page from one of the greatest Project Runway moments ever.

In Season 2, Kara and Zulema realized late in the process that the dress they were making for a team challenge was a mess and they needed to start over.  Kara was exhausted and started to lose it and Zulema parked her in front of the fabric and uttered these iconic words:

"I don't care if you cry and cut, but you're going to cry and cut. You're going to cut at that rate. Do whatever you need to do. You need to work. Don't stop and cry."

(Zulema might do well at Amazon)

In other words, I decided to be productive while crying. I still had two jacket mounts for the Hip-Hop exhibit that needed padding, so I sat down in the conservation lab with my needle and thread, called up my favorite choir tunes on my iPod, and stitched that padding down while shedding some hefty, salty tears. It was totally therapeutic to let it out while doing repetitive, meditative work.

And just when I was in my zone, I looked down and was like...does that spool say West Germany?


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