Avoiding Crisis

something that really bugs me

with 4 comments

like when people say, “You really should smile more.” 

I used to hear that a lot when I was a teenager. I used to get the “you should smile more, it would light up your face and you’d be happier” comment  all the time, especially from adults.  As if smiling would make everything A-OK and just peachy.  I always found this comment, and any variation of it, rather condescending. 

Why should I smile if I didn’t want to?  Who care’s if I don’t walk around with a big grin on my face?  Not smiling didn’t automatically mean that something was wrong or that I was unhappy, it just meant that I was not smiling.  Having swollen puffy blood shot eyes and a blotchy face – like how someone looks after having cried for an hour – was a much better sign that I was unhappy.  I was just not a big smiler back then.

I’m still not a big smiler.  Though I do tend to smile more now – it’s all my kids fault I tell you!  But  I still have people asking me all the time “are you okay?” and “What’s wrong?” because they assume that the look on my face means that I’m pissed off, angry and/or upset.  Which I don’t really understand, because it’s not like I intentionally frown and grimace – which I’ have read takes more facial muscles and therefore more effort to accomplish than smiling.  I just don’t smile. Got a problem with that? 

What probably bothered me the most about comments like, “you really should smile more” is that I always felt that people weren’t telling me to smile more because they thought it would help me, but more so because it made them feel better.  Which I now totally understand since research shows that just by seeing someone smile creates a short-term high equal or greater to the high brought on by sex and chocolate.   

Whenever someone would tell me to smile I’d give them a fake grin and say something bitchy like “is that better?” or “happy now?”  What can I say, I was a snotty, angst ridden teenager who was obviously very disrespectful to her elders.  I’m much nicer now, I promise.  And happier and less angst ridden too.  Which probably explains why I smile more.

But maybe it has something to do with the fact that I almost lost my ability to smile.  Seriously.  It’s true.  5 years ago I had surgery to remove a tumor from my right Parotid gland.  One of the possible complications of this surgery is temporary or even permenant facial paralysis.  Not to worry, all the muscles in my face are in working order.  I can still smile.     

But please don’t ask me to smile more.  I’ll smile when I want to; because I want to and not because you want me too.  

Next time you’re in serious need of a smile fix, and there’s no one around with a happy grin plastered across their face to give you that extra high you need to get through the next 15 minutes, maybe you should try some chocolate.  I hear about 200 candy bars may do the trick. 


Written by nicolemarie

April 10, 2007 at 11:10 pm

Posted in life, personal

4 Responses

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  1. Oh, oh oh! I used to get that all the time too! I hated that! I smile more now too, but when I smile you know it’s for a good reason. . .I don’t smile just for the people around me.


    April 11, 2007 at 5:29 am

  2. I think sometimes I have quite an angry face without realising it, especially if I’m thinking or concentrating. Must be the furrowed brow or something. I had a boss once who kept asking me if I was unhappy in my job, and he wouldn’t be convinced that it’s just my face.

    Then there was an interesting old guy in a bar. Out of the blue, he said to me “Can I ask you something?” Me: “Aye, sure you can.” Him: “What makes you so angry?”

    That was just because I was looking at the newspaper and must have had the thinking ‘angry’ face.

    It’s odd how we sometimes have a fixed idea about which expressions accompany which emotions, and don’t allow for much variation!


    April 11, 2007 at 8:10 am

  3. Prospectus – I totally hear you on this one. Most people think I have this “what the fuck” face. When I first met my now best friend from college in a seminar she thought I was the biggest bitch because I had this look on my face like, well, like I was a bitch. But I was just concentrating and listening to what the prof and the other students were saying. I also recently was told my my husbands boss’s wife that when they first met me they thought I hated them because I always had this pissed off, I can’t be bothered with you people, look on my face. I have absolutely no clue what they were talking about because I absolutely adore them, but that’s what they thought. I’m kinda sick and tired of having to explain away and apologize for my face.

    Dawn – do you smile more since becoming a mom?


    April 11, 2007 at 9:16 pm

  4. Perhaps we should form some sort of society. Unwittingly Grumpy-looking People Demand Recognition!

    Nah, everyone would be too scared to come to the meetings. 😉


    April 13, 2007 at 12:27 pm

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