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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Reclaiming My Smile

I've always been afraid to be too nice to people for fear of sending the wrong message.  I didn't want anyone to think I was naive or vulnerable, nor did I want to give off an "I'm interested" vibe when I was only being friendly.  So, I kept things pretty neutral...or at least I thought I was. Instead I was communicating (and yes, this is actual feedback) "scary," "serious," "tough," "stuck-up," "bully," and "mean." But it served its purpose - people kept their distance.  But...that meant that when I wanted to get close to people, I had to go above and beyond to disprove the reputation of coldness that I had established.  There were many ways that I was able to accomplish that - not all of which were the healthiest or most productive choices for me.
Then I discovered something, I could be nice to people just to be....nice. How liberating!!

Ok, Single Chick....what the hell is the point of you writing about this?

I had to remind myself about this lesson learned in high school recently.  My last romantic relationship was very abusive. I had become accustomed to averting my eyes from contact with strangers, keeping my socialization to a minimum and my conversations brief, and always avoiding any undue friendliness that could be misread (by anyone) as "flirting."  So ingrained in my was this mindset, that even after we broke up, I didn't realize that I had forgotten to reestablish my default facial expression to a smile.  It took months of introspection (and psychotherapy) to reconnect with my genuine joy and find ways for that to be communicated.  And I remembered again while I was travelling recently.  The customs officer asked my travelling companion if I am "always that serious." A security guard told me that I "should try to have fun and smile more." Even just walking down the street in New York I heard a man comment that he bets that "there's a smile under there somewhere."  Each time I heard the comment I had to remember that my smile is meant to be shared and shone.

And let me tell you...once I started to not only enjoy the city and the people, but to lead with my social spirit, I had a blast!!  I met some amazing New Yorkers (who, I might add, are some of the friendliest people I've met on this earth....)  I'm so glad I didn't miss it!


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