This week was all about crying for us – where we do it, why we do it, what makes us do it. And we weren’t ashamed to admit the probably ridiculous things that have made us cry as grown ass adults.
We’ve covered all the pop culture moments that have made us cry, where the best and worst places to cry are, and today we’re focusing on the real life things that can trigger a single tear or multiple tears, rather. Look, we’re technically adults here, but to be honest, we can be a bunch of crybabies. That’s right, we’re women who are in our late 20s (ughh) who have a lot of feelings that are best treated with physically letting them go through the magic of tears.
For every legitimate reason for crying (death, break-up, etc.) there’a an equal and opposite stupid reason (forgetting the coffee you made on the counter before leaving for work). We’re here to assure you that our tears know no bounds, and if you think your emotions can’t be kept at bay, you’re not the only one. Here are just a few incidents that have made us cry – as grown ass adults.
- Someone told me my shoe was untied (one of those weeks where you feel like everything is against you, from your own shoelaces to the stranger who doesn’t want you to trip).
- That time my car broke down on the way to meet my friend for lunch.
- Someone at the gym tried to tell me how to use the bicep curl machine (I already knew how to use it, but I’m also noticing that I don’t take correction well.)
- I went to church wearing my normal face, and a stranger hugged me because he said I “looked like I could use a hug.” Apparently, what I could use is a different face.
- Anytime a wife/husband is surprised by their spouse who is supposed to be in the military overseas.
- Every children’s Christmas pageant I have ever seen.
- The part at my church’s Christmas Eve candlelight service when they turn off the lights and only the candles everyone’s holding fill the sanctuary with light while everyone sings Silent Night.
- Old men dining alone. Though if I were an old man dining alone I’d probably just be like “yeah, I was hungry, what?”
- Seeing an old couple still in love.
- That old guy who carried a photo of his late wife with him everywhere he goes, even an In-N-Out.
- Any time I think about people who don’t have any friends or family: another imagination-based cry.
So sometimes people will say things to your face that they don’t think is insulting, but you kind of think of it that way. And it might make you cry. This is the art of the complisult.
If you watch Community, you already know that a complisult is a compliment merged with an insult — and even if you don’t watch that show**, you’re probably familiar with the phenomenon. You may know it as a backhanded compliment, and you could probably make up 10 of them on the spot: “those bangs really hide your wrinkles,” “your skin is gorgeous! I could never let myself get that pale,” and so on.
As I’ve mentioned, a lot of the older ladies in my family are not great with compliments, especially appearance-based ones. They usually just don’t try — I wasn’t one of those kids who grew up ever hearing that I was pretty or anything like that, which is good in a way, because I knew that everyone thought it was more important for me to be smart, or funny, or kind. The real problem came when my relatives did try, as a lot of things tended to come out as complisults. As you’ll see, the insult part is usually unintentional, and often kind of hilarious (just not at the time).
Here are some things that relatives have actually said to me (representing the main categories of complisults), why these were phrased poorly, and what you could say instead:
It’s so great that you still will wear bathing suits in public!
A relative said this to me after I’d taken my nephews swimming at a hotel pool. In case you’re wondering, I don’t have any obvious deformities that would make appearing without layers of clothing an act of bravery. I know, I know, you were probably thinking that maybe I had a partially-formed twin coming out of my back or a third boob. It’s not even like I’d had a baby and put on a ton of weight, which I suppose can make you self-conscious. And while there are a lot of great bathing suits for plus-sized people these days, I am, in interest of full disclosure, a size 0-2 in modern clothes. Not that this would have been any more okay if I were >300 pounds instead of <110. I don’t think it’s hard to understand why I was so complisulted.
- What I think she meant: I suppose that I’m more confident than she was at my age. I think it’s normal to admire people for making clothing choices that you wouldn’t be able to yourself, but there’s no great way to phrase that. Which is why…
- What you could say instead: Probably nothing.
You’re so much prettier than that.
I got my hair done for a wedding, and it was not good at all. Anyway, there were a million people at my parents’ house before the wedding, and one of them took one look at the bad hair and said that it was a shame, because I am “so much prettier than that.” I had been just rolling with the bad updo — it wasn’t my day after all — but I absolutely started crying.
- What I think she meant: that I looked bad because of bad styling — it wasn’t my fault.
- What you could say instead: If you are positive that someone doesn’t like their haircut or outfit or whatever, and you can’t even pretend that you think it looks good (because sometimes you can’t), stick to something like “well, even with bad hair (or whatever), you still look great.” “I’m sorry you don’t like it” is okay, too.
That’s such a flattering outfit!I always think that style of jeans makes everyone’s legs look skinnier.
I think that older ladies tend to use “flattering” more, mostly because I can imagine it being paired with “slacks,” “blouse,” or “pocketbook” and being said at “luncheon.” I don’t love “flattering” because it implies that the clothes, or hair, or makeup are doing the work, and are covering up some manner of flaw. This is especially true if you point out what is being covered. I’ve started not even accepting this kind of compliment, although I’m polite about it. E.g. – “thank you so much, but I actually don’t have any problem with how my (face/waist/kneecap) looks.”
- What I think she meant: that whatever I was wearing was working for me.
- What you could say instead: “That ___ looks great on you!”. This doesn’t bug me like “that __ is so flattering!” does because it feels like the wearer is getting credit for making the outfit look good, not vice-versa. After all, if you’re looking good, it’s because you flatter your clothes, not because they flatter you. “I love your [clothing item/accessory]” is fine, too. You can tell someone that their skirt is cute without explaining precisely how it minimizes their cankles.
You’re funnier than ‘’Debra’. I think she was always so pretty that she never had to have much personality.
Nobody wants to hear “you’re funny [because you were the fat kid]”, or “you’re smart [because you were always ugly and not into your looks]”, or even “you’re nice to everyone [because you’re pretty and people have always treated you kindly].” I know people who have basically been told all of those things.
- What I think she meant: I like your personality, and also here’s why I think you’re like that.
- What you could say instead: “I think you’re such a funny person!” And then leave comparisons to other people out of it, and leave looks out of it.
There you have it, the four main categories of complisult: the “I wouldn’t wear that,” the “you look awful but it’s not your fault,” the “congratulations on hiding your fat,” and the “your awesome personality is a coping mechanism.” Now you can go out there and build your own! Or, please, go out there and compliment people the nice way.
** But you should really watch it, though.