We’ve all been there. The tight feeling in your throat, the trembling lip, the tickling eyes — all signs you’re about to break down in the middle of the workday. It happens to everyone. Here are 10 stories from readers about shedding tears in the office, from reaching a breaking point with a bad boss to dealing with personal drama. Let’s cry it out.
1. Too Sick to Function
The most memorable time I can remember crying at work was when I (unknowingly) had mono. I came to work feeling sick, but felt that I should tough it out regardless. After a couple of hours of headache, sweats, and feeling lightheaded, my boss swung by, cheerily asking how my day was going. In response, I burst into tears, only able to get out "I'm siiiickkkkk" through fits of sobs. Needless to say, he was extremely uncomfortable and quickly sent me home with the request to "PLEASE not come back” until I was better.
2. Unhappy Engagement
I was doing my afternoon scroll through Facebook when I came across a post announcing that the man I’d been in love with my whole life was engaged. The picture was adorable. I started tearing up, and in an attempt to stop myself from blubbering, I shoved a piece of gum in my mouth, which I ended up spitting out onto my keyboard.
The sound made the person who sat in front of me turn around and look at me, so I left for a walk to properly cry. I decided to take the stairs to avoid people in the elevator, but my sobbing echoed loudly through the stairwell and people could definitely hear. It was a low point.
3. The Longest Two Minutes of My Life
I woke up one morning and realized my period was late — really late. Naturally, I obsessed all day, Googling abortion prices and early symptoms of pregnancy. After being completely unable to work, I finally decided I couldn’t go another second without taking a test.
As I was getting up to leave, I ran into a coworker who asked if I was okay, and I completely lost it. We went to the bathroom together and I could barely form words, but I managed to get out that I thought I was pregnant (after first saying, “I feel like I’m dying”). My coworker offered to go to CVS and buy a pregnancy test with me, so we went together.
We came back to take the test, and we waited the two minutes while some guy kept knocking on the door. It was the longest two minutes of my life. I thought for sure I was pregnant, and felt like I was going to throw up. I was already formulating a speech to the man I was seeing (but definitely not ready to make a baby with). I couldn’t even look at the test — I made my coworker check it for me. It turned out to be negative, and I was so relieved I started laughing and crying all over again.
4. Cracking Under Pressure
Nonprofit bosses can be a bit nutty. You're always working under the gun and there was usually a significant amount of pressure for our work at an NGO. We were planning our annual dinner and my boss just screamed at me because a letter that was supposed to be picked up via courier wasn't. It was my job to follow up on it, but it didn't get done because I was doing the 50 other things in my 14-plus hour day that were also "urgent." It was common at my workplace for rants to happen, and in a moment of weakness (I never cry), I just cracked under the negativity. I left shortly after that; he was fired soon after I left.
5. No, I’m Not Okay
I have always made it a point not to cry at work, because in my male-dominated office, it always ends with, “Did you see Jane cried in front of her boss? She can't handle an assignment with this pressure….” Then the day came where I was on a tight deadline, had immense pressure from my boss on other projects, no one on my team able to help me, and the clock ticking. I could feel the tears welling up. A male coworker stopped by to ask how things were going. I wanted to say “Do you see my desk? I'm not @*%&ing okay!”
As I felt the tears come forward I took a deep breath, said I was fine, and promptly excused myself to the ladies’ room. Thank God no one was in there, so I could quickly slink off to a stall and let it out. Of course, then I had to stall for 10 minutes while I waited for the red, puffy eye effects to fade. My advice for tears at work is always to take a breath and then make a break for the ladies’ room.