I was sitting at a cafe this week, and as I stared off into space, my face tends to relax into a somewhat restful, deep-in-thought face. The waitress asked me several times “Are you okay?” and I smiled back with a “Yes”. I don’t know if it’s because it’s more common to see most people staring on their phone or keeping busy. The way I feel inside doesn’t always reflect into my facial expressions, because sometimes I feel very calm and at ease but my face might say otherwise. Strangely enough, I do feel that there is an expectation for women to appear happy. If you’ve been told to smile by a stranger, you’ll know what I mean.
It’s a strange mixture of feeling that I’m quite an approachable person, but at the same time I’m sometimes not. It happens often that I’m asked for directions or spoken to by a stranger, yet at the same time I feel that I can appear stand-offish to people who don’t know me. It’s something about when you’re engaged in a conversation, you naturally smile, but when you’re not talking your face may be wandering in a daydream or appear distant. In the past, when I worked at cafes, there is a certain level of being friendly and smiling that one can muster, but then there would be quiet discomfort in pretending to smile.
When I read the post I’m an INFJ, and I have Resting Sad Face by Lauren Zazzara, I could relate to it in many ways. When she wrote “It’s even more frustrating when I’m told to smile…INFJs are walking controversies, because we are perceived as happy-go-lucky, outgoing people because of our desire to make others happy. But internally, we can be brooding, worrying, or simply contemplating without the outside world knowing. This confuses people. When they ask us what’s wrong, they inadvertently put pressure on us. Suddenly, we feel expected to make others happy all the time by putting on a façade. And that’s not fair. No one should be expected to be happy all the time, no matter how smiley they seem to be.”
When Lauren mentioned she is an HSP and also has anxiety, it makes me realise that many people may have similar feelings of appearing moody at the best of times. Most of the time, I’m in a calm mood and am completely fine, which is why we mustn’t judge a book by a cover. It shows how it’s even easier for someone who may be going through a rough patch, to disguise it in a smile so that the world would never second guess that they are going through a tough time. As someone who’s a deep thinker and likes to daydream, it’s natural to have a relaxed face and not consciously think of smiling.
I was talking to a friend today, and we talked about how often someone we may perceive as attractive at first, may lose that sense of attraction when we talk to them. It’s most often the way someones personality oozes and the way someone sees the world that really reveals their natural beauty. There’s an energy in that that can’t be replaced by our exterior, because it’s ultimately something we’re born with. It’s the way we express ourselves, which can’t be caught in a glimpse but only discovered in conversation. That’s why, many people I thought were serious on first impression, are funny, positive, caring and kind people once you get to know them.
In talking about this, I am trying to be more aware of not appearing too sad or serious, but very often it’s just how our face relaxes which isn’t really in our control when it’s not conscious. I find it means that I’ll smile more when I truly mean it. As an introvert and a soft spoken person, it can often be perceived that I’m being rude, judging or distant, when I’m someone that’s very caring, sometimes serious but really silly person at heart. I think of Rooney Mara and Victoria Beckham who are known to not smile often, yet they are individuals who are calm and seem genuinely friendly in interviews. There’s a difference in what we see in a photo, or in a moment compared to when we talk and see someone beneath the layers.
There is power in smiling, especially the kind that radiates and sparkles. It’s important to smile more during the day, but it’s just as important to smile when we really mean it, and stay true to who we are. For those who understand the feeling of being asked “Are you okay?” or “What’s wrong?” you’ll know that feeling of slight annoyance or frustration. There are times where people aren’t okay, as previously mentioned, when I’m really not okay, I often smile a lot because I don’t want people to worry about me. Whereas, sometimes if I appear relaxed, it may seem that I’m not okay even though I am.
Similarly to the good ol’ question “How are you?” which has become very generic, yet there is a portion of people who ask it because they genuinely are wondering how you are. When people ask “Are you okay?” most of them are people you don’t know well, and so it’s good to just let those comments slide by. The photo above really depicts the resting face. There’s beauty in just being calm and doing nothing. We often lose the art of being in thought and in our own company, when we become attached to keeping busy. No one can be smiling all the time, just as no one can be sad all the time. The depth of our emotions run deeper than what we see outside.