In defense of ‘smilers’

I’m a smiley person. I have “resting nice face.” I smile at friends, family, coworkers, people on the sidewalk, people at the store, dogs, and babies. Heck, I’ll even toss a smile at the occasional flower or cloud. I like smiling at people, catching them off guard, and getting them to smile in return; I like to believe that they pass the positivity along.

However, not everyone takes my demeanor for what it is (i.e., I’m just a smiley person). They try to analyze it. They ask:

Why are you so happy all the time? 

This scenario is perfectly depicted in my all-time favorite movie, When Harry Met Sally.

It’s strange to me that “smilers” have to be on the defense, that some people take our cheerfulness as a method of attack. Whenever someone asks me “Why are you so happy all the time?” I’m still not sure how to respond, because experience has shown me it’s usually not asked out of genuine interest. I just mumble “I don’t know” and offer a weaker smile, hoping they’ll change the subject.

But they usually respond with laughter, a “See what I mean,” and imaginings of all the dark stuff I must be hiding behind the bright smile. (The absolute worst conclusion is, “It’s the quiet ones you gotta watch out for.” Watch out for, what, exactly? A Unikitty explosion?)

Afterwards, I feel confused, the smile twitches, and I’m forced to ask myself:

Is there a reason I shouldn’t feel happy right now?

Of course there is.

Even if nothing awful happened on that particular day, I can always scrounge up something (a mediocre test grade, my lovely chin acne, my ever-ready self-doubt). But I don’t like doing that; I don’t like walking around with my shoulders slumped and heavy with all the things that are wrong with my life. That type of thinking doesn’t get me anywhere except under my covers.

And those days—weeks even—still come, believe me. They happen to everyone. I just prefer to deal with them privately.

You shouldn’t feel guilty about being a sunshine-y person, and you shouldn’t feel guilty even if you’re more of the cloudier sort. Everyone deals with things differently. Just be kind and understanding—no one wants another reason to feel insecure. If you’re a smiler, keep doing you.

(Featured image via, Sally via, Unikitty via)