What’s Really Going On Behind Your Smile?

smile, life, mental health, attitude, philosophy, humor, Modern PhilosopherLook at that charming smile on the left, Modern Philosophers.  Not bad, right?

People always tell me I should show my teeth more, but I find that if I smile too wide, it makes me squint and I look sleepy or hungover in photos as a result.

I put this pic on Facebook this morning with a status that said something like: Don’t let the smile fool you. Running sucks, and I’m not having a nice day!

One of the reasons I dislike running is because it gives me too much time to think.

While it seems like heresy for a Modern Philosopher to complain about such things, the thoughts I have while running aren’t usually good ones.  I’m often pondering how much I hate running, or making deals with myself to just get back to The House on the Hill, rather can curling up in a sweaty ball in the middle of the street and begging the Angel of Death to just put me out of my misery.

For the past week and a half, I haven’t been able to prevent myself from thinking about the person who is supposed to be spending this vacation with me, and how if she were here as planned, I’d be doing something a lot more fun and romantic than running.

My mind goes to dark places, Modern Philosophers, if left unattended for too long.

So even though there’s a smile on my handsome face, there’s a very good chance that there’s actually pain, anguish, and horrible thoughts hidden behind it.

Which, of course, got the Deep Thoughts flowing again and made me wonder:  What’s really going on behind your smile?

We’re really good at hiding our true emotions, aren’t we?  We have to go out in public, make it through the work day, set an example for the kids, and navigate through an endless number of scenarios on a daily basis.

mental health, emotions, depression, masks, life, philosophy, Modern PhilosopherWe can’t be a bawling, angry, ridiculous mess for all the world to see, now can we?  So we put on our smiles and just hope that no one can see through our masks.

I know that when I’m going through a hard time, I do my best to hide it.  One of the things I worked on in therapy was not letting things get to me, not being so grumpy, and presenting a happier version of myself to the world.

It’s definitely helped.  I’d never make it as a poker player, but I think I hide my tells a lot better now than I did a few months ago.

Obviously, I’m talking about my public persona for the real world.  When I’m writing on my blog, I don’t really do much to hide how I’m feeling.  Writing is my therapy, it’s my chance to get out what’s bothering me, and hope the bad things drift off into the internet and no longer haunt me.

You know, so my smile can be real.

I’ve been depressed, highly unmotivated, lonely, bewildered, angry, sad, penitent, and frustrated  during today’s speed round of Emotional Roulette.

In case you’re scoring at home.

I’m working on a new project that has involved my researching various aspects of mental illness.  I have a decent understanding of it from my time working at the mental hospital, but I’m by no means an expert.

As I’ve been researching, I’ve been self-diagnosing (you know you would, too!), and it worries me that I exhibit a lot of the symptoms I’ve come across in my reading.

Does this mean that I’m hiding a great deal more behind my smile than I realized?  If I were, wouldn’t my therapist have picked up on it?

Or have I gotten so good at presenting a happy, smiling version of myself to the public that I prevented her from truly diagnosing me?

It’s so much easier to put on a smile and go out into the world than it is to admit that things are so chaotic on the inside.  Was I not honest with my therapist?  Did I smile my way out of discovering deep, dark truths about myself that I wasn’t ready to handle?

mental health, sadness, depression, relationships, philosophy, Modern PhilosopherMy world has been completely turned upside down, and I’m doing my best to hold it together.  Sometimes, though, I wonder if I’d be better off completely losing my $%^& and seeing what happens.

Do we do ourselves an injustice by behaving the way society expects us to, rather than breaking down and allowing our emotions to run free?

Should we be less concerned about what others think and focus on being true to ourselves?

Right now, I have no idea what to think.

There is so much going on inside me that I am genuinely relieved that I have this time off to process it and try to get myself to a better place.  The ability to isolate and not have to deal with the outside world is a major plus right now.

Or is it a crutch that’s preventing me from dealing with what’s truly happening?

I guess I’ve got more questions than answers tonight, Modern Philosophers, but isn’t that what Philosophy is all about?

Besides, I’m smiling, so how bad can it really be?

I’d genuinely smile if you would follow me on Pinterest…

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
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32 Responses to What’s Really Going On Behind Your Smile?

  1. markbialczak says:

    When you walk (or run) around smile, people wonder what you’re up to. So they say, Austin. It’s better than the grumpy look, sir.

  2. amommasview says:

    Great post and I’m sorry your mind has to go to dark places. I believe that you can feel if a smile is genuine or just put up, like a mask…

  3. celiamae says:

    I think being able to put on a smile when you’re struggling is being strong. You know that letting your emotions get the best of you won’t help, so you decide to stay positive and hope that things work out. Which they will!

  4. Gail says:

    Have you tried listening to music while you run? I find it helps to transport my overactive mind to places that make me smile – or cry – sometimes we need that too, Austin.

  5. I don’t like it that you are sad. I am sorry you are feeling broken. You need to go to Cadillac Mountain with a friend. You can’t be sad there-at least I don’t think so. 😁👯

  6. ntfcnicky says:

    Hey, only discovered your blog a couple of days ago. Totally on the same page with the writing to sort out your emotions thing, although I’ve got to try and keep people I know from finding my personal blog and make sure they only see my sports one 😛 Stay strong and keep your head up, check out Paulo Coehlo, amazing author and his books make you think about so much that it’s difficult to fixate on negative personal things, hope things get better 🙂

  7. Claudia says:

    You can smile when you laugh and smile when you cry. It’s one of those transitory things…and something that can only come naturally. If you force it you will look like the little girl in the Addams Family movie trying to smile — scaring us half to death. I smile when I have a reason to…even when I’m feeling good it doesn’t always surface. It’s what you feel inside that matters. And writing helps. Keep it up.

  8. Pingback: My Picks Of The Week #34 | A Momma's View

  9. kimkasualty says:

    The way I see it, you have some great coping mechanisms. I find it incredibly hard to hide behind anything, and that is what causes me pain, feeling like I’m on a different plane of reality because saying what you truly feel just makes me look irrational and intimidating.
    Just don’t make the defense wall too high, because you might not be able to see over it either.

  10. You really never know what lurks/ hidden behind a smile. And each smile could mean different things too. They say sometimes you gotta fake it to make it…I suppose that goes with smiles as well. I hope the smiles you give and receive would take you to less dark places. Keep smiling! 😊

  11. stomperdad says:

    When I run I usually think about food. A smile is much like closed doors. We never really know what’s going on behind them.

  12. Blake Standard says:

    There isn’t much I can say to help out here. Sad feelings are the hardest to process. When I run, I listen to a lot of progressive metal. The timing helps out with pace and the landscape passes by in interesting ways at times. Running with a song about Rasputin and the paraplegic boy on an out of body experience inhabiting him – it’s a hell of an album – running the Czar’s men is fantastic. Especially when I hit one of the trails or it is dark. Also, I recommend air drumming and guitar. Just in bursts.

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