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What I Feel When Everyone Asks Me To Smile

What I Feel When Everyone Asks Me To Smile

During the exam period, anyone can find me studying at Starbucks from the time they open till they close. And every day when someone I know passes me, they’ll say “Marina, you should stop studying and smile once in awhile. Maybe then more guys will ask you out”. I don’t think anyone has any idea of how annoying that is – that I have to smile every day when men pass by me. It’s 2015- how can this still be going on? But alas, there are people who think if we smile at them just to be nice we are inviting them in for a sexual act.

According to Muhammad Rizalman Ibrahim, a former defence attaché, he claims that “it was a Malaysian custom that women who smile are inviting men to follow them”.

Umm no, it’s not. I doubt that is any country’s custom. Honestly, the thought of that is frightening. People would have to think twice to smile at strangers.

I know people say, us young adults, we are the revolution, and we’re going to bring the change the world needs, but there are people among us who still have these primitive mindsets. I went out dancing one night with some friends, and I happened to smile at a guy, he flirted and danced with me, but I showed signs that I was not interested in anything other than to dance. With a scrunched up face and a hint of anger, he departed my company to swoop down on some other smile.

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To be quite frank, I was fine with that. I just wanted to have fun with my friends that night. However, the next day over brunch I told one of my friends what had happened, and he said, “Well you smiled at him, so he obviously thought you wanted to have sex with him. You brought this on yourself”. Umm, when did smiling become an invitation for sex?

I’m not just singling out females here; I’m talking about everyone, boys and girls, who just naturally have an emotionless face. People think that if someone doesn’t smile, they’re mean, and they hate you. I’ve gotten that comment far too often. “I thought you didn’t like me the first time I met you because you didn’t want to smile at me”. It’s not that I didn’t want to smile at you, that’s just how my face is. I am honestly a very happy person, and I’ve seen other very happy people who go through this exact situation. We just have an emotionless face, but trust me we are friendly people!

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Besides, smiling is not the way to appear friendly to someone. You could hold a door open for someone (and swallow it down when they don’t say thank you), wish him or her a good morning, or even when you first meet someone, you shake his or her hand. The point is that there are so many things in this world that we can do to appear friendly and polite to strangers, and it’s preposterous to think that smiling is the only way to do so.

People nowadays have this notion that smiling is the only way to appear friendly or worse, happy. Whenever I don’t smile, people assume I am upset or sick. It’s honestly frustrating when you constantly ask people to smile. Asking someone to smile would now appear negative rather than the positive that smiles stand for.

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From all this, I can say that it’s quite frightening and annoying what people think about smiles. People with an emotionless face do exist, and it’s not a compliment to ask us to smile just for your pleasure or for anyone else’s for that matter. And it’s not the only way to be polite. But no matter what, people will constantly tell us to smile for others. It’s like we’re being set up. If we smile it’s bad, and if we don’t it’s bad too.

Featured photo credit: Maxal Tamor via shutterstock.com

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NOORMARINA ANWAR

Student, Monash University

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Enjoy Taking Risks

The ability to take risks by stepping outside your comfort zone is the primary way by which we grow. But we are often afraid to take that first step.

In truth, comfort zones are not really about comfort, they are about fear. Break the chains of fear to get outside. Once you do, you will learn to enjoy the process of taking risks and growing in the process.

Here are 10 ways to help you step out of your comfort zone and get closer to success:

1. Become aware of what’s outside of your comfort zone

What are the things that you believe are worth doing but are afraid of doing yourself because of the potential for disappointment or failure?

Draw a circle and write those things down outside the circle. This process will not only allow you to clearly identify your discomforts, but your comforts. Write identified comforts inside the circle.

2. Become clear about what you are aiming to overcome

Take the list of discomforts and go deeper. Remember, the primary emotion you are trying to overcome is fear.

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How does this fear apply uniquely to each situation? Be very specific.

Are you afraid of walking up to people and introducing yourself in social situations? Why? Is it because you are insecure about the sound of your voice? Are you insecure about your looks?

Or, are you afraid of being ignored?

3. Get comfortable with discomfort

One way to get outside of your comfort zone is to literally expand it. Make it a goal to avoid running away from discomfort.

Let’s stay with the theme of meeting people in social settings. If you start feeling a little panicked when talking to someone you’ve just met, try to stay with it a little longer than you normally would before retreating to comfort. If you stay long enough and practice often enough, it will start to become less uncomfortable.

4. See failure as a teacher

Many of us are so afraid of failure that we would rather do nothing than take a shot at our dreams.

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Begin to treat failure as a teacher. What did you learn from the experience? How can you take that lesson to your next adventure to increase your chance of success?

Many highly successful people failed plenty of times before they succeeded. Here’re some examples:

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

5. Take baby steps

Don’t try to jump outside your comfort zone, you will likely become overwhelmed and jump right back in.

Take small steps toward the fear you are trying to overcome. If you want to do public speaking, start by taking every opportunity to speak to small groups of people. You can even practice with family and friends.

Take a look at this article on how you can start taking baby steps:

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The Number One Secret to Life Success: Baby Steps

6. Hang out with risk takers

There is no substitute for this step. If you want to become better at something, you must start hanging out with the people who are doing what you want to do and start emulating them. (Here’re 8 Reasons Why Risk Takers Are More Likely To Be Successful).

Almost inevitably, their influence will start have an effect on your behavior.

7. Be honest with yourself when you are trying to make excuses

Don’t say “Oh, I just don’t have the time for this right now.” Instead, be honest and say “I am afraid to do this.”

Don’t make excuses, just be honest. You will be in a better place to confront what is truly bothering you and increase your chance of moving forward.

8. Identify how stepping out will benefit you

What will the ability to engage in public speaking do for your personal and professional growth? Keep these potential benefits in mind as motivations to push through fear.

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9. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Risk taking will inevitably involve failure and setbacks that will sometimes make you look foolish to others. Be happy to roll with the punches when others poke fun.

If you aren’t convinced yet, check out these 6 Reasons Not to Take Life So Seriously.

10. Focus on the fun

Enjoy the process of stepping outside your safe boundaries. Enjoy the fun of discovering things about yourself that you may not have been aware of previously.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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