What is behind your smile?
Behind my smile is where I hid for years. Behind the smile that people saw, there was pain and self-hate. Throughout the years, I have grown to hide less behind my smile, but I still find my moments where it feels more comfortable, safer and easier, to show up and hide behind that smile. In between Zoom meetings, I might have spent the break criticizing myself, putting my head down in disappointment, full of fear of the unknowns. Then my phone reminds me that I have a meeting, I run to the bathroom, fix my makeup if needed and tune into the meeting with a smile and respond “good” when asked how I am.
Why do we do that? Why do we hide behind our smile? Why do we say we are good when we are horrible? Well because that’s what society expects us to do. So we paint a face of joy to others, when we feel everything but joy on the inside.
I’ve been feeling a lot of lack of feelings lately, I’ve been waiting to feel like Ivy again, the Ivy I found a few years ago who loved herself so deeply and felt life so freely, who felt confident and sure of herself and felt passion about her dreams and goals. A lot of those feelings have come and gone, and I’m not really sure how to develop those feelings again. The difference behind my smile now is that now I may smile during a Zoom or seem like I am fine, but I have my outlets, my supports that I can open up to and cry and say I am not okay. And that is more than okay. Stop listening to the voice in your head or your peers who tell you to suck it up or that it could be worse. It is okay to not be okay. Not because you’ve seen that posted on an Instagram post, but because it is true. It’s okay to hurt and it’s more than okay to not hide behind your smile.
Behind my smile is sometimes pain, but behind my smile is also a story. A story of growth. A story that is mine. A story of resilience. A story of pushing forward. A story of finding my voice. A story of learning my power. A story of letting go, giving myself grace to start again, from ground 0, not knowing what this version of my self-love journey will look like, but ready for it.
So here I am, in the same space I was back in 2017, sick and tired of being sick and tired. The main difference is is that I am no longer hiding behind my smile. I am learning to love myself again, learning to feel again, learning to experience joy again.
So if you are here with me, if you have been feeling lost, confused, hopeless or numb, I hope you join me. I hope you know you aren’t alone. I hope you know you can start today. You can start and begin again. You can break free from society’s restrictions that tell you that you need to be okay, because it’s okay if you aren’t.
Begin again today. Give yourself permission, you are not a failure, you are thriving and growing. What’s behind your smile? I know there is a beautiful story behind that smile, let those feelings flow. Let them flow.