The Embarrassing Yet Freeing Thing About Crying in Public

There’s something particularly embarrassing yet freeing about crying in public, especially for someone who tried so hard to shield any emotion that embodied vulnerability. Yet there I was on Lenox Avenue: face red, tears streaming, and snot running onto my overpriced American Apparel scarf. Luckily for me, New Yorkers are used to seeing everything from the extremely irate commuter to the strange street performer. So a girl walking down the street with ugly crying face didn’t seem too uncommon.

And though I type this feeling emotionally exposed while nursing irritated eyes from all the rubbing I did, I’m proud of myself. Being tough is so restricting, and I believe that each tear I let roll down my cold-stricken cheeks melted away that barrier I built. I once believed it was made of brick, but it was actually made of dry wall.

Things have been changing rapidly for my family and me lately. Those who know me personally can attest to that. Usually I would embrace this welcomingly, but this isn’t the type of change I generally crave like Lay’s potato chips. Instead, this is the type that will make you ask God to pump the breaks or maybe change routes.

During all of this I’ve never taken the time to breathe, never taken the time to heal, especially from some of the changes that hurt. I’ve had relationships fade, with some lingering bitterness. And as I look out to my future, sometimes it can be hard to laugh without fear as the Bible extols of the envied Proverbs 31 woman.

“Take it all in,” my mom constantly said as I packed my boxes, preparing to leave my family’s home in Florida for the final time.

“Yeah, yeah I see it,” I’d reply. But deep down, I kept burying those feelings of wanting to hold on to the way things used to be. I never liked long goodbyes, but my mom on the other hand possibly minored in them in college. For me, long goodbyes mean tears. Tears would mean I was fragile. And fragile, I refused to be seen as. Take it as a side effect of my pride.

But what a lesson it was for me to suddenly break on a crowded Harlem street. In between sniffles I finally admitted to God how hard this has all been. I expressed that I know my family and I are moving in the right direction and on to divine endeavors, but how sometimes doing the right thing isn’t void of trials.

Just the previous night as I said my prayers, I asked God to humble me. My pride and seemingly tough exterior have gotten in the way of so much in my life— more authentic relationships, more authentic spiritual life, and a more authentic self.

Well, as the saying goes, be careful what you ask for. You may just end up bursting into tears in public.

Tara Pook

Dream On

dreams

My dreams were always hard to verbalize to others. The aspirations I have come to me in full vivid visions, and that can be hard to speak aloud. Often times I appear unsure or insecure as I try to explain to those who ask about my life goals, but it’s actually the opposite.

I am confident in my creativity. I am confident in my dreams. Whether you understand them or not is not my concern.

I continue to dream.

Happy Birthday Langston.

—Tara Pook

The Mystery and Misconception of Tara

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People just don’t know what I’m about
They haven’t seen what’s there behind my smile
There’s so much more of me I’m showing now
These are the pieces of me
—Ledisi, “Pieces of Me”

On more than one occasion, I’ve been called a mystery. I thought it was some sort of corny pick-up line men used to flatter me or make me feel more interesting, until I heard it from family and even close friends. Yes I can be rather private and introverted, but I was baffled as to how I could be taken as mysterious by those I had known for years.

Initially I became concerned about small things, like if I was running late for lunch, would my friend know what to order for me? Then it grew to the larger matter at hand: Is there anyone who truly knows me?

This led me to realize that perhaps I’m more of a misconception than a mystery. This was all based on a faulty understanding of who I was. I couldn’t blame them entirely as I’ve struggled in the past with being open and honest about my true self.

As I’ve detailed on my blog, I used to think vulnerability was a sign of weakness. But as I matured I began to see it as the opposite, which is why it was difficult for me. It’s taking a brave leap of faith in revealing your all to someone and believing that they will still love you in spite of the unkept parts.
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Seek Peace and Pursue It

I’m learning that in spite of the hardships I face, I can still choose to rest in God’s peace. My use of the word choose is intentional, as the past year-plus taught me this while I managed anxiety surrounding family, school, and finances. I tried so hard to rely on myself; to be the cool, calm, and resilient person I knew I could be. The problem was that neither my peace nor my strength was in God, but rather in my own capabilities. In the end my wit and charm got me as far as my 2 year old nephew playing Sonic the Hedgehog (he runs off the track almost immediately). My actions involuntarily chose panic rather than peace.

I struggle sometimes between what I see in front of me and what I know in my spirit. I see a mountain of frustrating circumstances that is seemingly impossible. But my spirit knows the promises of Romans 8 – that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. It can be hard to find peace and balance when you live in that kind of duality.

We are human. We desireseek peace intentional quote that which is tangible to the senses rather than the spirit. We prefer the guarantees of a signed contract with people than the divine promises of God, which is understandable to some extent. In choosing peace, however, we choose that which doesn’t make sense at first like confidently applying to a private university with a Ramen noodle budget. Peace is not a magical arrangement of circumstances, where everything is perfect. As the late John Paul Jackson said, “Peace, or shalom, isn’t just a feeling you’re left with— it’s an action you take.”
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Thank You NYC, For Making Me a Better Person

Times Square

I usually avoid Times Square like carrots in my shrimp fried rice, but tonight I couldn’t help but stand here for a few minutes. I’ve learned a thing or two from the tourists I rush past. They’re so happy and in the moment, as they marvel at the big lights. It reminds me to be grateful for the opportunity to live and learn in this city. And although this past year has been rather tough, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The patience I’ve gained is not only manifesting itself in waiting for the promises God made to me when I moved here, it is also manifesting itself in the way I’ve shown patience with those around me. Like showing kindness to a tourist struggling with her luggage, or treating a homeless man like he’s not invisible.

So I guess I say all of this just to say thanks NYC, for making me a better person.

—Tara Pook

Because He First Loved Me

I’ve been going through what I call a spiritual lull these past couple of weeks. I haven’t been reading my Bible as much as I should, and when I do pray it’s more out of Christian obligation than heart-felt desire. So Saturday morning (5:30am to be exact) I said a prayer before work asking God for the grace to get out of this spiritual valley and to ignite a fire within me. I prayed for my worship to be pure and my praise to be true.  My desire is to chase after Him with all my being, in order to reach new heights and have greater intimacy.

facebook link imageAfter “Amen,” I was out the door.

At work I was mostly going through the motions – checking in members, handling complaints, etc. – and wishing I was back in bed. I was finally relieved to get my break and get some much needed caffeine in the form of a large French vanilla iced coffee.

As I power-walked down the street I heard voices singing. I looked ahead and saw four people— three men and a woman— harmonizing, but I couldn’t make out what they were singing. Living in NYC, it’s quite common to see people performing on the street or just being weird, for lack of a better term, so at first I paid it no mind. But as they got closer, I heard:
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Finding Freedom in Sharing My Mess

10678626_10203532050757708_7264541990605032393_nI used to take pride in having it all together. Or should I say appearing to have it all together. In between replies of “I’m fine” and “I’m doing alright” lied the truth– I was a hot mess waiting to boil over. My pleas for help were so buried and stifled that I found it difficult to cry or even pray in the privacy of my room. “Get it together Tara,” I’d say, as if I were a coach prepping his team after a losing half, “You’re tougher than this.”

But I wasn’t, and yet my lingering struggles with perfectionism and vulnerability served as duct tape over my mouth, preventing the truth from coming out.

That I felt overwhelmed. That I felt frustrated. That I felt alone.

And perhaps worst of all that I wouldn’t be understood.

There was no room on Instagram for the shadowed parts of me. No, only perfect selfie lighting to showcase a seemingly Carrie Bradshaw-esque lifestyle of cute vanilla lattes during the school week and bottomless brunches on the weekend. There was no mention of the sleep-deprived and anxiety-filled Tara who was over-drafting her bank account for textbooks.
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