When I was a child I always thought being strong was the best quality a person could have. My childhood was not perfect, and there are many things that I would have changed if I could. I cried when I was little, when I was scared or so furious the tears just couldn't contain themselves any longer. But one time, one night, my father told me "You're the strong one in the family. Never be weak."I took this to heart. I learned how to take all the anger, all the hurt, and turn them into words. I was proud of my ability to contain myself, stare a person in the eye with no expression,even when I was burning inside. I learned how to be in control of myself. I forgot how to cry. I can remember the night when a marvelous uncle of mine-my Dad's only brother- died. I remember everything- how many times the phone rang, where I was sitting, how my mother answered it, the words that she said, the look the threw to my curious, clueless father. Everyone cried. I did not. I still feel a bit guilty, even to this day, how I never cried for my Uncle. I loved him so much, and even at his funeral, I sat in stony, solemn silence. I was polite, quiet, composed. Fast forward a few years, and I still did not cry from anger or depression or sadness. I scoffed at the "weak hyper-feminines" who bawled during my volleyball matches when we lost, or when they made a mistake. When the season was over, my whole team was dribbling all over each others shoulders. I smiled, doled out the hugs, and awkwardly laughed and said "well...it was a really great season, wasn't it?". I did this for years. Rolling my eyes internally while I gleefully distributed hugs and pseudo-consoling words to red-eyed, puffy faced girls. I never once cried. Instead, this curious phenomenon began to happen. I began to cry when things were...funny. Whenever I laughed, or was amused, tears would streak down my face. I always laughed about it, joking that I can't cry when I'm upset, only when I'm amused. I thought it was deliciously ironic; when girls were weeping about a spike that went into the net, I sported a giggle and grin, and several tears would leak out the corners of my eyes. I probably looked insane. Today, things are different. See, I'm a passionate person. I get lonely. I get angry. I get sad. I cry-when I laugh and even sometimes when I'm upset. The little wipe of my fingers under my eyes to catch a tear between peals of laughter is commonplace for me now, and I love it as a little part of who I am. A little quirk that is mine. And yes, I sometimes do cry from missing someone, from being in trouble with a friend or loved one, or from the sheer exhaustion of life. But now, I don't think it's such a weak thing to do. I think it shows strength, actually. Being strong, being alive enough to cry.