i’ve been told to do it all my life.
i hear it less and less nowadays, but every now and then – when i least expect it – someone points it out. if i’m not walking around with a grin on my face, i hear, “SMILE!!!” or they ask me what’s wrong. even complete strangers have come up to me in public to assure me that “it can’t be all that bad.” and 9/10 times, it’s a man.
i’m sure people are well-meaning, but it has always annoyed me. i don’t like being told how to feel. and i’d rather look how i feel than pretend i’m something else. pasting a smile on my face isn’t going to fix anything.
i’m totally fine…until someone feels the need to say something. usually i’m just preoccupied, trying to concentrate or just tired. but then i’m left feeling confused, self-conscious and a bit ticked off.
i wonder what people see when they look at me? am i just a somber person? if i don’t look happy enough all the time, is that a bad reflection of Christ? i’m not always “happy, happy!” but i am content. i know i’m loved. when i entered recovery, i thought the days of depression were over. i never thought i’d consider the idea of suicide again. i thought i had cried enough tears. but i was wrong. it only got worse. which didn’t help my demeanor, i suppose. i felt like everyone was noticing, even when i didn’t really intend for them to. i didn’t want to be seen that way. people told me it was all okay, but i was exhausted and frustrated. i didn’t want to always look like i was carrying this burden. so i struggled, i struggled with how i was supposed to “get happy.” because, apparently, it wasn’t going to magically happen.
i was never “happy” enough growing up, either. i was always told how miserable i looked. (and really, considering my life, who could blame me?). it didn’t take much to make me cry, so i was called a “cry baby.” i was told how moody i was, so i was given different names for my different moods (intended to be a knockoff of sybil).
it was enough learning how to pick my head up after all those years. one day i realized i walked everywhere with my eyes down…and when i looked up, i noticed that there was a whole world around me. a strangely obvious thing, but for so long i lived in a world of shame. i wanted to hide. i didn’t want people to know who i was or what my life was like. if i didn’t see them, they didn’t see me.
i’ve gone through so many changes. i’m constantly growing. i’m not who i was, that’s for sure. i praise God for who He is and what He has done in my life. so whenever someone feels the need to point out the fact that i’m not “happy” enough, i get discouraged. i don’t want to be a performer or a people-pleaser. i don’t want to be fake. i want to be who i am in Christ. do you think He smiled all the time? did that make Him any less of who He was?