Over the years, I've always been called the emotional one. If you're reading this, you probably have too.

Throughout my life I have run. When I got in an argument with my sisters, when things weren't going my way, or when I got made fun of, I would run to my room, shut the door, and cry. As I got older, it got worse. One on one meetings with coaches turned into me balling my eyes out. Interviewers for scholarships, committees, and programs saw my eyes well with tears as I shook with nerves. Audition judges saw my face get wet as they critiqued my performance.

Crying became my escape. When I was sad, I cried. When I was nervous, I cried. When I didn't know what to say, I cried. You get the point. I began to wonder what was wrong with me. Why couldn't I, a girl who felt so strong, independent, and confident, control her emotions? Why when I was alone did my body submit to shaking? Why when I was nervous could I not help but feel tears begin to roll down my face?

Once, a coach told me that I had to change, that I had to grow up. I couldn't cry in meetings or interviews, that would be unacceptable. In that moment, I didn't feel like an adult; rather, I felt like a child unable to keep herself together. After that, I began to see my emotions as a weakness. They became something that made me less able. I was embarrassed to cry in front of other people in fear that they would see me as inferior to them. As I started college, I tried to pretend I no longer had feelings. I felt stone cold, like a shell of person no longer filled with what makes her human. About halfway through my first semester, I couldn't take it anymore. I got sick. I stayed in my room for days straight. I broke down and cried.

That coach wasn't wrong; but she also wasn't 100% right. Clearly, I couldn't go into a job interview and expect a call back if I couldn't keep myself composed. However, I realized that my emotions were not a weakness. I realized that although I do cry more than the average person I should not be ashamed of myself for it. The way I express my emotion is unique to me, and that is okay. Maybe I cry because I feel everything a little bit deeper. Maybe I cry because there will always be a part of me that wants to be a little kid again.

I also realized that I don't have to justify myself. I am allowed to feel however I do without an explanation. I am allowed to cry. Yes, it is something that I will always need to work on; but it has made me stronger. Realizing this aspect of myself has empowered me to believe in myself and to see myself as strong once again. Crying doesn't make me weak, feeling like I can't cry does.

So to anyone who has ever been labelled as too emotional, I am here to tell you there is no such thing. We all deal with things in our own way, and having strong emotions just shows you care. Please don't be afraid to cry, I promise you, it will get you nowhere.