From an early age, there was a part of myself that I didn’t want others to see.
It was my tears.
I was a sensitive little boy, and somewhere around age 5 I started to feel like sensitivity wasn’t welcome in my world. I remember getting “looks” from others when I'd get emotional. Most of the time, I wasn’t told to stop crying, but I started to feel that holding back my expressions would make others more comfortable.
I'd find ways to hide that part of me. I remember several instances when I was teased in school and tried my best to “hold it together” and not cry, only to turn around and let it all out behind closed doors. I remember spelling the first word in a spelling bee wrong and feeling so much shame ripple down my spine that I barely made it offstage in time to explode in emotion.
For the majority of my life, I haven’t felt safe expressing myself fully, but I've recently noticed that I'm not the only one who feels this way.