A University Has A ‘Cry Closet’ For Students Who Get Too Stressed
When was the last time you had a good cry? Whatever leads up to you crying is obviously terrible, but there’s a certain satisfying release to just letting it all out. Sure, if you’re a guy reading this you might be thinking that you’re too cool and too tough to weep, but come on. You may be fooling everybody else, but you’re not fooling yourself. Bottling up those emotions and all that salt water isn’t good for you. Don’t be afraid to make like Elsa and just let it go. Toxic masculinity is the worst.
Wait… are you crying right now? We didn’t mean to sob in front of us! Get yourself together and go find somewhere more private. That’s the best way to cry. Get yourself all holed up in a nice, cozy and preferably dark space and just let all that stress ooze out of your eyeballs. Private cries are self care, and we all deserve one from time to time.
There’s no more appropriate time to cry than when you’re in college. You’re not a kid anymore, but it doesn’t mean you don’t want to start bawling constantly.
There are the constant exams, pressure to keep up your grades, soaring cost of everything and all the debt you’re putting yourself in to stay there.
Factor all that in with the troubles of trying to maintain a social life and dealing with awful, random roommates at the same time. Yeah… we’re starting to tear up just remembering those days.
Nemo Miller knew the stresses of college life all too well. They were constantly filled with anxiety over it.
Miller’s a visual artist attending the University of Utah, and was given an assignment that would soon make international news.
Miller was given an art project by assistant professor Kelsey Harrison with the intention of creating something that acted as a social intervention. So she got to work. While she dealt more with ceramics, she actually started building something made of wood.
The Cry Closet
Miller’s project was complete, and was displayed in the university’s campus library for all to see.
But they could do more than just see it… they could actually use it. Because Miller constructed a closet and invited people to enter it.
Specifically, it was a “cry closet.” And as you’d imagine, people had various opinions about it. This particular student found it to be quite hilarious and shared it on Twitter, where word spread quickly throughout the internet.
Miller shared her thoughts on making the cry closet, saying, “The inspiration came from my own experience of stress and anxiety.
I wanted to create and provide a space where students like me could decompress. The stress of finals is real for many students.
We’ve even seen from the overwhelming response to this piece that people in the work world want and need places to safely emote, as well. The need is universal – because it is human.”
No matter what you think about the project or the possible need for it, you have to admit one thing.
This looks like an absolutely phenomenal place to have a good, private crying session, doesn’t it? How cozy does this look?
The space is designed to fit only one person at a time, is outfitted with padded walls and floor so you can thrash around a bit if you like, and it even has a few stuffed animals, in case you need someone plushy and adorable to hug and confide in.
The door of the closet has a framed message, stating the intention and rules for the cry closet.
This is designed to help students studying for finals de-stress a bit. As you can see, it’s meant to only be used for a max of 10 minutes.
You’re also meant to knock before entering and go in alone. This quiet, dark space is perfect for hanky panky, so they’re trying to avoid that, even though it is another great way to reduce stress.
Assistant professor Kelsey Harrison who assigned this project as part of a study on an art movement of the 1990s and early 2000s called Social Practice.
Harrison spoke on it and the cry closet, saying, “There are often political undertones (and overtones) to the work of this movement since social space is always also political space.
Take for example Michael Rakowitz’s 1998 project paraSITE in which he fabricates inflatable dwellings for homeless people that heat and inflate by attaching to the exterior outtake vents of the HVAC systems of buildings.”
Harrison continued, saying, “This work, like Miller’s, draws media attention to a problem the artist has identified in culture.
In fact, the degree to which media attention is directed by Social Practice works is often the degree of their effectiveness. What I mean is that Michael Rakowitz did not solve homelessness.
But he drew media attention to the problem with his strange, elegant and improbable solution. Miller, similarly, offers an object that has drawn us into international debate. This conversation is the work’s success.”
If the point of Social Practice pieces is to draw attention, then the cry closet was a smashing success.
Once word of it hit the internet, reactions were immediate and plentiful. As you’d imagine, many of them were quite negative.
It enforced the stereotype of millennials being weak cry babies that needed a safe space. However, these negative reactions actually fed into what Miller was trying to do and only reinforced the success of her artistic statement. How so?
Twitter Got Mad? Really?
Well, Miller was not only trying to offer a real place for stressed out students to decompress.
She was also making a statement on the need for such a place to exist. This is because of all the stresses and perceptions of modern society placed on her generation.
They face more economic challenges than their parents, and whenever they feel the need to emote their concerns, they are derided as whiny over it. Reactions like these played into that.
Also, many of the people that were responding angrily at this project are the same people that complain this generation is too easily offended.
Yet, they clutched their pearls and jumped on the outrage bandwagon… all over a piece that was meant to be tongue-in-cheek to begin with. The reactions were so overwhelming the university itself even responded, pointing out that getting upset over a joke is a bit silly. Then again, if they’re that upset over this, there is a perfect place they can cry over it.
The Zen Den
The University of Utah isn’t the only campus where attempts are being made to help students deal with stress.
CSU Chico opened its Zen Den II, which provides a calm, soothing atmosphere where students can relax and refocus.
The space includes four massage chairs and three hammocks behind curtained-off areas for privacy, as well as a main area with a sofa, chairs, a coffee table and bean bag chairs, giving off a living room vibe perfect for chilling out in.
Juni Banerjee Stevens, Ph.D., associate director of the Counseling and Wellness Center, gave an interview about this unique space.
“We hoped that students who were experiencing symptoms of anxiety and panic could access this low-stimulation environment without an appointment and self-soothe.
I’ve talked to students who come to the Zen Den to do some relaxation exercises before an exam. Others come between classes to ‘detox’… the Zen Den gives them [a] safe space, even if only for a few minutes.”
Remember when that angry Twitter user wondered if employers were going to need to offer ways for employees to deal with stress?
Well, guess what? Some businesses are offering their workers ways to do just that. Some offices are now equipped with treadmill desks.
Exercise is a great, natural way to relieve anxiety, so working out while your working can help. However, the fact you’re constantly running and getting no where at your job can’t be good for your existential dread.
Let It Out
So what have we learned? If you’re stressed out, it’s best to let it out.
Don’t be afraid to get a good sob in when you can. Even if you’re an ugly cryer, there are dark, confined spaces you can do it in private.
The problem with the cry closet isn’t that exists, it’s that only one exists. Can we all have one installed in our homes? Then again, any cry closet can become a cry closet if you’re sad enough. If you’ll excuse us, we’re gonna de-stress and self-care among our wardrobe for a bit.