One of my biggest pet peeves in this world (besides people not using their blinkers while driving or not training their dogs) is someone, especially a stranger, especially a man (apologies, but it's usually men) telling me to smile. Randomly. On the street.
I won't go into the obvious reasons why this makes me so angry (or, to put it more in the vocabulary of my mission here, why I *respond* so angrily, or why I let this strange person affect me in such a way), but it does have me thinking. Why, in our society, is it so upsetting to others if we go out into the world *not* overwhelmed with (obvious) joy?
Usually, I'm just fine, just not smiling, because, really, who does that all the time? Seriously. But this idea that I'm supposed to put on this face or this attitude to make someone else more comfortable really is absurd. Whose truth is that? And how has it warped our definition of happiness? Of what is an appropriate response to grief? Disappointment? Frustration? Loss? A bad bloody hair day?
I don't want to wail in the streets or anything (but be my guest and more power to you), but I do want space afforded to me to be authentic. Or, I guess, really, I want to authentically understand my own responses, my own emotions. I don't want to attach to them, depend on them, but I do want to witness them, and to witness them, I need to be able to name them.
And to name them? I need a vocabulary. A vocabulary bigger than just, "smile, sweetheart."
(P.S. But everyone in this life is a teacher, even that guy. So, in all honesty, I thank him for the thought-provoking suggestion.)