Walking out of my classroom with tears streaming down my cheeks, I searched for a colleague.
“One of my fish died!” I blubber to two other teachers who were startled by my emotional unraveling as they walked around the corner toward me.
“What?” one asks to clarify, sure that this statement can not be connected to the reasoning for my grief.
“My fish died, and I need help.”
One offers a hug, though will not assist in the removal of the deceased fish from my classroom tank. Thankfully another steps up as I apologize profusely for my tears, grabbing tissue after tissue and listening to my coworkers joke about “giving him a proper burial” and “saying some words.”
I am forever grateful that I feel things, though I have often thought I’d like to feel them a little less deeply. I’ve had countless moments where I am wholly unable to compose myself at times when others show no reaction.
When I was a kid, my parents used to call me Sarah, short for Sarah Bernhardt, an old-timey actress whose dramatic antics I rivaled. Any time I would cry to the point of hyperventilating, I remember my mom saying “Put your arms above your head, just breathe!”
My raw expression of what is inside is something that can cause me embarrassment at times. When I feel like I am reacting inappropriately to something or I perceive that others are viewing how I am acting as silly or childish, I feel the need to say I’m sorry, or even “I’m so ridiculous.”
But the reality of it is, I don’t want to be sorry for allowing myself to be vulnerable. I don’t want others to view my reactions as over-reactions, because they are sincere. My husband always says to me that I have the biggest heart, and that is something I’m proud of. That means, though, that without a doubt, I will cry because my heart is mourning the loss of our nameless class pet, and I will cry when I think about how my students feel when they come to school hungry, and I will cry when I read powerful words (whether my class is sitting in front of me or not!), and I will cry when I experience the description of bitter sweetness that my friends feel when their children are growing. And I am grateful for that, even if it means that I will cry because I also empathize with characters from sit-coms, and I will cry if I spill my coffee in the morning when I'm running late, and I will cry when I see a really cute dog. These moments are the ones that define my sensitive spirit, and I would like to stop apologizing for that.