Though I'm Often Mistaken For One

because I have no social skills and apparently look pissed off whenever I'm not smiling.  I wish people didn't think that about me.
feralkitten feralkitten
26-30, F
12 Responses Sep 14, 2007

Lots of good points being brought up on all sides of this conversation. It's all given me a lot to think about. I'm wondering now if maybe I do strive so hard to be unique that I may be alienating most of the people around me. I'm sure there is a proper balance to find somewhere in there.<br />
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That's a cute story, Skyelillie, about you and your daughter. I do the same thing when I'm concentrating, especially when I'm reading I'm told (which I do A LOT lol). It's been frustrating me lately because it's been showing up in my self-portraiture. I'm a photographer and have been trying to focus more on technical skill lately and have noticed that every picture I've taken of myself for the past year or so, I have the same concentrating look on my face, which, admittedly, does make me look more miserable than I actually am.<br />
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Smiling in general is pretty frustrating for me. I've got nerve damage in my facial muscles from a virus I had as a teenager, so when I smile it's like half of my face doesn't move along with the other and I look really asymmetrical. I was really self conscious about it in high school and still I've noticed if I catch myself smiling in the mirror it's really hard for me to keep it up without it instantly being transformed into a fake smile that looks much worse. I've got some anger about that, as it's something that could have been prevented with physical therapy when I had the virus but I was misinformed by my doctor that it would resolve itself naturally.<br />
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I honestly do believe a lot of people's smiles are fake or exaggerated, but I do still make an effort to smile at some strangers or say hi or make some small talk when I'm not feeling too anxious. So, maybe I look meaner than I mean to and am scaring some folks off. Sometimes I forget other people get nervous around strangers too, because I'm usually attributing my discomfort to my social anxiety disorder. But, I do believe modern technology and fears have made it more difficult for strangers to connect to each other face to face, so maybe I will strive to try to alleviate those fears more than I have been and cut *some* people a little more slack. ;)<br />
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It's just so much easier to be angry and ostracized about it than it is to try harder. Plus, a lot of times in my surroundings it seems like I am the only one trying.

I have to cut in on this debate. As my friend MissLily pointed out, you do have to let people know, through body language that you would enjoy a conversation. Or you could even start one yourself if you felt like it. I do see your point though. I have some of that problem occasionally too. Not that I am not content most of the time, but usually when I go about my normal buisness my mind is somewhere far away on issues and things going on in my life, so I am not necessarily smiling, half to most of the time, I would say the opposite. Not frowning fiercely but sorta neutral. I have had people ask me what I was angry about before though. LOl Which totally blew me away because I wasn't angry at the time, just tired or my mind was wondering. My eight year old daughter has even commented on it. I play guitar and it seems that when I am playing, I usually don't smile but have more of a frown on my face. I know its because I am trying to concentrate, but my daughter didn't get it at first and asked me what I was angry about. Now she knows different and the other day she even told her friend who was over, while I was playing guitar, not to worry because I was not angry, I just looked that way when I was playing because I was consentrating. Which I found quite halarious. Anyway i wouldn't worry about it to much. Smile when you are happy, frown when you are sad or angry and otherwise just be yourself. If people do not like you for who you are then they aren't worth talking to anyway. Otherwise they will start a conversation with you if they really want to, or if you see someone your interested in talking to try to start one yourself. It doesn't even have to be something big. Just start by saying hello and go from there.

Don't worry. I don't think you are trying to argue... you are just expressing your view. I'm not either. I'm expressing a view and I feel it is a very important point so I hope it helps. I have to ask you: if you are concerned with these issues then what are you doing to address them? War, poverty, depression.... Why wait for others to take care of that? I've heard the best way to combat these things is through ourselves and by generating compassion.. I think this is true even if it is hard sometimes. Yes we are all unique individuals but when we see others as all just "others not like me" it gets in the way and makes compassion difficult and that is precisely why we have so much war, anger, and sadness. <br />
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One more thing I'd like to point out is that when I go to the grocery store and I don't want to talk to people I sort of frown or look disinterested. I think to most people that means: "I dont' want a conversation. Leave me alone!" (At least I hope it does) If you want to converse you have to let people know it is okay because most people are probably just trying to be respectful and stay out of your way. I'm glad we have that or people would be bugging me all day when I'm are just trying to get chores done. <br />
Maybe you think 99.9 of smiles are phony but how do you know, really? There are so many reasons to smile. One could simply be for your own benefit. Cause you want to feel good. Whats wrong with that? <br />
I'm not arguing that people should smile 24/7 but I think its silly to complain about people smiling.... I know 99.9 are not fake. Some are but that is not our problem, is it? <br />
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Maybe you don't feel like smiling all that much so it doesn't show in your eyes (as jewlraider pointed out) or people aren't used to your smiling so the are confused. I've seen pictures of me when I was not smiling all that well. Ugh. (I'm not good at smiling for cameras because that is fake - lol!)

Thanks, I know what you're trying to say, I think. My problem is the assumption that I don't care about anyone else because I'm not buying into the whole "life is wonderful" lie, IMHO. I look around the world, with a fairly intelligent brain, and I see war, rampant depression and anxiety, poverty, abuse, manipulation, and the list goes on and on. I know there are good things in the world too, but I'm not going to be ignorant of all the bad and as someone who's been through it, it angers me to see people who are on a daily basis when instead they could be doing something to actually make things a little better. Life is a battle and we're all warriors in it together. If all those smiling citizens actually cared about anything besides continuing to try to convince themselves and everyone around them that they're happy all the time, shouldn't they be the ones starting conversations and reaching out to the down & out instead of mean old me? I can assure you, it's a rare ocurrence that one of those smiling masses takes a few seconds while waiting in line someplace to even say hi, let alone try to relate, to the frowning girl with blue hair paying for her mom's groceries.<br />
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At risk of sounding emo, I might go so far as to say half the reason I'm not smiling is because I DO care. If I didn't care, I probably would be a lot meaner of a person, instead of just someone walking through the grocery store with what I think is a neutral look on my face, that seems to be misinterpreted as something it's not. I think smiles are so overused that they mean absolutely nothing personal anymore 99.9% of the time.<br />
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Not trying to start an argument with you or anything. I just think this is an interesting conversation. If I sound overly defensive, it's probably because I've got some physical/self esteem reasons for not smiling all the time, too, as my smiling at strangers is met with weird looks and uncomfortable shifting at least half the time. Or maybe just because I'm sick of society placing so many expectations on me and mine to act like everyone else in order to carry out simple tasks like making a friend or getting hired for a menial job, whether they be based on my species, sex, nationality, religion or any of the other stereotypes we like to fit others into to avoid having to think too much.

Hey FK, I never used the word smile or said fake pretend to care. I just ment that we have to try and show more concern for others even when we are depressed. Especially when we are depressed. cultivating that can help you. It has little to do with alieviating your own loneliness. Its more to do with altruism or karma or something. I'm sorry if I'm not conveying my point properly. <br />
People can't relate to you if you refuse to relate to them. I'm depressed to. I've just been thru a separation. I'm have yet to take care of the legal aspects. So yeah..<br />
I've gotten that remark before too. Everyone isn't so different after all.

lol Thanks, Shayndel, same here. It just seems like a lot of people don't try to contribute like that unless you're already projecting the whole "life is great!" act. Another one I get is "you're so beautiful when you smile!" with, like, surprise in their voice, inferring that I'm some kind of hideous ogre the rest of the time.

I get that, too. I always look pissed off if I'm not smiling. Then I'd get "you should smile more often." I'm really good at giving a hairy eyeball, so that's their punishment for saying so...but heck...if someone can brighten my day, the smile is on.

I really appreciate your advice and understanding, but why should we have to put on a fake act for the benefit of people who are too closeminded to realize that not everyone expresses themselves the same way they do? I'm more inclined to think the fault lies in those who are assuming things about me that aren't true, rather than in me not projecting some kind of mask that's trying to please everyone else...<br />
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I could understand going that route because you're sick of being lonely or feeling like people don't relate to you, and I stick a smile on for that reason, myself, sometimes, but I can't imagine forcing it on myself on a daily basis just to appease people.<br />
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I also have depression, so half the time I'm not smiling because I don't feel happy and don't see any reason to lie to everyone about it. That doesn't mean I hate everyone around me or wouldn't enjoy some conversation. It means I respect people as fellow human beings enough not to misrepresent myself to them, most of the time.

Sorry RT, I didn't mean to make it sound like inward looking poeple don't care about others. I'm one a lot of the (or I used to be at least) I just ment that we have to show it a little better. force ourselfs to come out an show our concern for others so that we don't appear to not care. If that makes any sense. And the balance is not going overboard and ignoring your own problems in favor of others.

I can definitely relate. I know I seem really friendly and stuff online, but if you met me offline, you would see that I don't smile or talk much...but that doesn't mean I don't care about people.

I used to have this problem and maybe still do sometimes.. It reflects inner happiness. People misinterpret it as outward unhappiness toward them. I agree with jewlraider. Those things will help... But also you have to just learn be more interested in the people around you. Not dwell on the internal issues but be concerned about others too. Its hard to find a balance sometimes, especially if your life is at a low point but it can be done.

Try to smile more, look people in the eye and smile with your eyes. You don't have to say anything. If you project that you are happy with yourself others will pick up on this. Find a friend that will help you work on your social skills or go places where you can observe other people in action.