Tears For Equality

After the #hangoverforequality ended, my scientific curiosity rebooted and I wondered why I cried so much over the weekend? I wasn’t sad, I was delighted! I was ecstatic! In Leo Varadkar’s words, I was part of a social revolution. Constitutional law doesn’t usually cause tears of anything but boredom, but by gosh were we a crying nation this weekend.

The #hometovote really set it off on Thursday and Friday.

I felt myself overwhelmed with happiness as I participated in history in the making, but fought back the tears as I walked to my polling station to cast my vote.

And afterwards when I met my friends.

I cried on the train back from Mayo every five minutes on Saturday reading updates and tweets on #marref and at every photo, engagement, and yes result, and at all the positivity emanating from Ireland.


I cried when Mayo said Yes!

I cried when I got back to Dublin and saw the rainbow flag above Trinity.

Every time I hugged a friend I was about to burst into tears of joy and I was certainly not the only one.

But why?

While crying is usually associated with sadness, occasionally these tears of joy spring forth. Why? Well researchers at Yale got participants in a psychology study to react to positive stimuli such as a happy reunion or cute babies and then recorded how long it took them to return to their normal state. The research suggested we cry to restore emotional equilibrium. People who cry at happy occasions were better able to regulate intense emotions and return to their normal balance state sooner than those who did not cry. So in this instance, it helped the country deal with feeling ‘all the feels’ and then return to work on Monday, #hungoverforequality, but essentially functional. 

Although I appreciate a scientific explanation, I really hope that after Ireland’s collective tear-shed this weekend we don’t return to our normal balanced state of sarcasm and cynicism too soon because being a happy nation was awfully nice.