So, I’m writing this on my colleague’s computer while lying on his rug waiting for the late showing (folks in the West Coast are the last to watch EVERYTHING) of the 2016 Olympics opening ceremony.
I didn’t know what exactly to write about tonight, because writer’s block, but as I got tired of staring at the blank screen I looked up at the TV and it hit me. It’ll be short, but whatever.
Once upon a time, I HATED my smile. Like, I know hate is a strong word and all, but yeah, that’s pretty much how I felt about it. And as a result of hating how it looked I was a little insecure whenever I had to smile for photographs. It didn’t stop me from laughing or smiling carelessly whenever the occasion demanded it, but anything that required thinking about smiling was avoided.
This dislike continued all through childhood into adulthood. Basically, during photographs this was me whenever anybody would say “Femi give us a big smile now.”
But the more I introspected (I’ve always been huge on self-assessment) the more I realized that I actually only hated my smiles when I smiled consciously. Whenever I let go and just let it loose, I didn’t have issues with it. I didn’t think it was awesome, but it definitely wasn’t a bad smile.
Now, not to overly toot my horn, but I’m great at giving compliments. However, I do terribly with receiving them. So to all of a sudden start receiving compliments about my smile was something that unsettled me. One moment readily comes to mind. I met one of my Puerto Rican friends’ mother at his PhD defense, and I remember amongst several compliments he said she paid me (after I left), the one thing that stuck was that she thought I had a great smile. Over the course of the (almost) three years I spent in Michigan, one thing that resonated with a lot of people’s ‘testimonials’ when I was leaving was “I love your smile”. One comment in particular got me in my feels. A friend said that no matter how bad he was feeling, whenever he saw me and saw me smile it would lift his spirits. To have something that you didn’t really value bring so much joy to people is definitely a pleasant surprise.
So today, I’m thankful for the power of a smile; for freedom to not care about how I look when I do, and for being able to bring other people joy when I do.
Writer’s Note: By the time I finished writing this, the ceremony was almost over. Writer’s block is an asshole!!!