Don’t Tell Me to Smile
It happened again. I’m just…there. Living my life. Maybe I’m at the store, peacefully wandering the aisles, blissfully on my own. Maybe I’m sitting at Starbucks, computer in front of me, gazing off while I contemplate my next words. Maybe I’m at work, walking with purpose, intent on finding an answer for a question in my mind. I’m usually in my own head, thinking my own thoughts, dreaming my own dreams.
I can see it now. The all-knowing keeper-of-emotions is most certainly a man. The simple word is usually spoken cheerfully, nearly always in an almost flirt-like manner. It’s said with joy, and with its own smile to add authenticity to the command. It’s meant to make conversation, to connect. It isn’t spoken with malice. There is no secret behind the word.
But it always. Every. Single. Time. Fills me with a cold irritation. With anger.
Suddenly, the last thing in the world I want to do is “smile”.
My response is always a purposely obvious half-hearted “ha…haha” followed by the weakest smile I can manage without being completely rude.
What I want to do, though, what I really yearn to say but my mouth and mind won’t let me, is this:
Don’t tell me to smile. I am not a doll.
I am not a plaything whose purpose is to amuse you.
I am not at your command, sir, I am not just a pretty thing.
I am a human being and sometimes I feel sad. I feel nostalgic. I feel creative. I feel angry. I feel nothing.
I am a professional, I am educated, I am more than a smiling face. I have thoughts in this head that consist of more than puppies and rainbows.
Don’t tell me to smile. I am not at your will. I have my own mind, my own reasons, my own way
Do I tell you to cry, to yell, to cheer? Do I expect you to be happy 100% of your day? Do I try to manage your emotions? Control how you feel?
Tell me, sir.
Has anyone tried to overtake your right to your own feelings? Ever?
I know…I know. Smiles bring joy, it’s true. And honestly, I smile more often than not, laugh more than scowl, shine more than sink. And I think smiling is a really good thing. A universal language we all can
rejoice in, take comfort in.
I like smiling. Smiling’s my favorite.
But guess what, Sir. That’s my smile. I get to choose when to raise my cheeks and lift my voice.
Please, I know you mean well. I know you’re just making conversation and trying to be kind.
I don’t fault you for it, not for the past.
But now…now you know.
Don’t tell me to smile.