I’m not sure if it’s because I grew up in an only moderately dysfunctional home, or if it’s just my personality, but I like to smile — a lot! I smile at everyone I pass on the street whether I’m in a good mood or not. I think it’s polite and quite frankly, the right thing to do when passing strangers.
Am I the only one who feels this way? It would seem so by the number of people I pass on a daily basis that either look down at their feet (nice try!) or coldly look right at you (jerk!) and not return the gesture at all! I’m not asking for a Tom Cruise mega-watt smile here, folks. I’m just seeking some human warmth and a simple acknowledgement that we’ve seen each other.
I really hate to say this but women are the worst when it comes to this issue. Maybe it’s our tendency to judge each other based on stupid things like clothes or hairstyle. Maybe it’s a competitive, jealousy thing. I don’t really care what the lame excuse is. Get over it and smile. It washes your soul and presses the reset button when you stop the self-talk that keeps you from being warm to people and just smile no matter what.
Am I overly sensitive? Do I take things too personally? Yes! I do take it personally when I warmly smile at a passerby and they return the gesture with a poker face or complete head-turn. Granted, there are days when people don’t feel so cheery or they’ve heard bad news or whatever the reason may be. Even then, turning up the corners of your mouth just slightly won’t kill you. And if your reason is that you’re shy, insecure or afraid the smile wasn’t directed at you, is it really a horrible thing to have smiled in vain? There really is no “out” here, people. I have “thrown away” many smiles that have fallen on blank faces only to have one really great one come back at me and it just brightens up my whole perspective once again. For lack of a better explanation, since I have clearly shown I am no writer, it makes me feel more connected as a human. Like “Hey guys, we’re all in this together.” We all have the same struggles and issues and insecurities. A smile goes a long way in paying respect to your fellow man and noticing that he is just as valuable as you are.
I genuinely hope this letter makes it to the paper. I’m hoping there are “others” with my brand of sensitivity chip, who are willing to put aside their reasons, flash a nice grin more regularly and even go way out on a limb and say, “hello.”
Stephanie Harrell is a Carlsbad resident.