To hell with the uber-cheerful facade

I’m finding the returns on that investment grow smaller every year.

It’s a deeply ingrained pattern, a coping mechanism, a wall.

It’s helped me work with horrible bosses. It’s helped me advance my career. It’s helped me pretend I like people that I really don’t and tell them what they want to hear so that I can just be a normal, functioning part of a team. I will probably employ the cheerful facade in my business dealings until the day I retire. Don’t most people?

But I’ve noticed in my circle that this facade isn’t always helpful. People feel like they can say stupid things to me, patronising things to me, nasty things to me, and I’ll just take it on the chin. Newsflash – that’s not what just happened. I’m just surprised and baffled by what you just said, because after all, I’ve never been anything but nice to you. I won’t come up with the perfect retort until 3 am. But I will steam over it, oh yes.

And if I get angry, I’m adorable. Great. Just what every adult woman wants to hear.

I don’t know – have I done such a good job of fooling everyone that everything is awesome all the time that some people forget I’m real?

That I have feelings, character flaws I’m sensitive about, parts of my face and body I don’t like but have been trying to learn to love, problems I’m struggling with, bad days, creative wobbles, career woes, health concerns…

I could go on, and with some friends I do, in the right context and space. But in general, I try not to complain and moan, not because I don’t want to, but because people who do it all the time are deeply boring and draining. I also believe that keeping positive is the key to a happy, vital life, and the more positive and filled with gratitude I am, the more ‘luck’ I seem to have.

Yes, my life is pretty great. I’m very thankful for that. I’ve worked my ass off to make it great. But I’m sorry if my cheerfulness has given you the wrong idea.

I’m serious.

me

I posted this profile photo very briefly on my Facebook page last night. I was just so thrilled that I’d finally taken a selfie containing one chin instead of three, and realised my overseas friends and family hadn’t seen my face for ages – I tend to hide behind the camera.

I was surprised at the reaction some people had to my non-smiling face. One good friend quickly qualified his comment on my seriousness with a compliment, which I really needed to hear. Another person said I looked ‘angry’ and ‘upset’.

I dislike most photos of myself, and can ruin a group selfie with the best of ’em. I get sad when I see the disconnect between the fabulous woman I think I am, striding around feeling badass and wonderful, and the photographic (albeit slightly distorted) evidence that I’m not 23 anymore and those pints of Ben and Jerry’s don’t do me any favours.

So when I was playing around with my phone last night after a haircut, I was surprised and pleased with this image. It feels like the real me, when I’m on my own and not trying to people please. Which thank god for Yorkshire, and its down-to-earth straightforwardness, I feel less and less like I have to do. And before you think this outburst has anything to do with my new friends here, it doesn’t. Everyone is lovely and kind, in a much calmer, less forced sort of way.

So unless you have something positive to say about someone’s appearance, or it’s something they can fix easily – something caught in their teeth, a tag is sticking out, they forgot to zip up their pencil skirt all the way – shut the hell up.

I’m serious.

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2 thoughts on “To hell with the uber-cheerful facade

  1. Well said! I needed this. People should learn that Comments are optional. We shouldn’t expect or be expected to be the most agreeable version of ourselves all the time, it isn’t natural and sooner or later we feel ourselves hidden and unappreciated.
    I honestly think you look brooding in your photo and, as I’m non-photogenic, I can appreciate liking a selfie that doesn’t have a dorky smile and makes my face look funny.
    Besides, take the Mona Lisa, Van Gogh’s self-portrait and most of the famous portraits of modern times, it looks like the most popular gaze is pensive or brooding.

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