Don’t You Ever Smile?August 23, 2012
Don’t You Ever Smile?
I remember hearing those four words cut through me like a knife. I was around 15 years old and working a summer job at Dexter Chevrolet in Detroit, MI. I was quiet, shy, introspective and a bit sullen (I was a teenager after all), but nowhere near equipped to toss the comment aside. The middle-aged salesman who asked the question didn’t even wait around for an answer. He would never know the impact he had on me.
We all have our hang-ups. The things about ourselves we wish we could change. Little did that man know that he had hit upon mine…my smile. I don’t even know when this insecurity started. I came from a generation where braces were the exception, not the norm, and they were not an option in my family. But somehow, in those early years, along with my painfully shy nature, my smile became my own personal target.
The Evolution of a Hang Up
Fast forward roughly 30 years and I’m with my daughter who is having a consultation for braces. (She is of the braces generation.) About midway through our conversation, the orthodontist looked at my then-husband and back at me. I don’t remember his exact words but he commented on my ex’s perfect bite and then told me that I could use braces myself. That he would have to break my jaw, but he could get me that perfect smile. Totally unsolicited advice. Needless to say, another orthodontist got the job 🙂
But in that split second after his remark, the “Don’t You Ever Smile?” comment flashed in my mind. It took me right back to the service department in the basement of the dealership where I was filing folders. This time, however, I didn’t cry. Instead, I did a painting about it.
I highly recommend creative expression to empty out unwanted memories, hang-ups and emotional baggage.
When that painting was finished, I put it to rest. By that time, thankfully, I had recognized the silliness and vanity of my insecurity and much of my angst about it had disappeared. One of the perks of getting older is that “Who cares?” becomes a new mantra.
When you truly let go and it’s only part of your past story, not your present one, miraculous things start to happen. I wish I had a dime for every person over the last few years who have told me what a beautiful smile I have. Maybe it’s not a smile worthy of a toothpaste commercial, but it’s a true reflection of who I am and I am grateful to have finally learned this lesson of self-love.
Whether it’s a less-than-perfect smile, a scar, or anything else about your physicality or even your personality that keeps you from embracing every part of YOU, remember that only YOU have the power to turn your light on or keep it dimmed. I hope you choose the former!