A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with my coworker. She was having a particularly bad day…on top of a particularly bad week. I was trying to cheer her up.
“You know, as you’re crying into your pillow tonight about all of this, you can at least take some comfort knowing that this is one of the best experiences you’ll ever get in this industry.”
She laughed at that. But it’s not just funny–it’s true.
I say this as someone who isn’t a big fan of crying–in this job, you need to cry. If you don’t, you’ll probably kill yourself or go into serial killer mode or something.
That being said, there’s a time and a place for crying. And 99% of the time, it’s when you’re alone at home.
There are a few exceptions. If a story hits particularly close to home, I think it’s okay to shed a few tears. I’ve discussed this with my coworkers and came up with a few instances where we cried:
- The only times I’ve ever cried at a shoot was at 9/11 memorials. This wasn’t so bad because everyone around me was crying too–including other photographers.
- A coworker told me she cried covering a cop’s funeral, because her dad is a cop. But luckily she hid the tears behind big sunglasses (I need to remember this for 9/11 next year).
- A coworker told me she cried doing a story about Osama bin Laden being killed because it brought back old memories for her. She ended up being really embarrassed about it because it happened during a one-on-one interview with a 9/11 victim’s family member.
- Another coworker cried a few days after Sandy…and was comforted by two women who had lost their homes. The picture of him bawling made it into the Daily News, and of course is now famous in our office.
I think these were all instances when it was completely okay. I also think if you’re crying at work, you should try not to do it loudly or grossly. I try not to draw any attention to myself when I cry. But I have heard of “journalists” who start bawling all the time at nothing, and I think that’s crazy. You’ve got to be tough–at least outwardly–when you’re on the job.
One of my coworker always gives me a tip on how to cope with stressful situations at work. She always laughs, because as she says, “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.”
So I laugh. A lot.