“If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.” --Maya Angelou
(Be prepared for some of my cheesiest, happiest, smiley-est pictures!)
In the spirit of total honesty, the past few months have been some of the hardest I have ever gone through. I won’t go into detail (no one needs that,) but I will just say that I have been put in some situations that were simply draining to my body, my mind, and most detrimentally to my soul. I have been left questioning everything about myself and my future. For the most part, I haven’t even been seeing a future… waking up and functioning was a decision that had to be made day-by-day.
I am not writing this to garner your pity-- quite the opposite, actually. My main point ties back to Maya Angelou’s words I included at the start of this article. Even if it takes my conscious effort to pull myself out of bed knowing the day I’ll face, even if I get put through the ringer and brow-beaten all day long by those around me, even if I break down and cry at night because I know it all repeats again tomorrow, I know that circumstance deals everyone a cruel hand. Despite the fact that not everyone may think so, my purpose in this life is to give as much of myself as I possibly can to the people I care about.
No matter how crumby I may feel, it is absolutely necessary that I “fake it ‘til I make it.” I will continue to plaster a smile on my face and carry on. Here’s the funny thing: that’s what seems to give you the most power. When people want to take away your joy, it really gets on their nerves when you seem joyful in spite of their efforts.
People always tell you not to mask your emotions, and that’s absolutely true. I have said it; I have to cry it out sometimes when I get home after a really taxing day. But that’s just it-- I save it. I refuse to allow my own personal struggles to impact the happiness of someone else (even if those around me seem to not hold that same opinion.) Even if the happiness I show does not always match the feelings I may have internally, it is important to me that I seem like my joyful self to people who could benefit from it. In a world where people love to tear each other down just to make themselves seem better, a simple smile can go a long way.
If I’m having a bad day at school, for example, I can probably assume that my students’ days are far worse. If I feel downtrodden by people around me, imagine what these young, impressionable children must feel about those people. Many children come to school from not-so-great home situations, and those are also the children who tend to suffer throughout the school day because they are seen as “problems.” I choose to create a positive energy at school for the children, regardlessof the way I felt coming to school or how those around me are treating me. Even if I have only one smile inside of me, I choose to share it with the kids I have come to love so dearly.
My mom always says that if you think you’ve got it bad, there is always someone out there who has it WAY worse. While I acknowledge the importance of getting help when you need it and know that you should not minimize your own problems, I think this is something I need to keep in perspective. Sure, life can give me a swift kick in the butt (or two, or ten.) Be that as it may, someone in my life still needs me to get my act together and spread joy and kindness.
The biggest compliment I receive is when people tell me I’m “always smiling.” Even if that smile isn’t totally honest, I feel that it must make a difference if people took notice enough to point it out. And guess what? The saying is “Fake it ‘til you make it” for a reason. I could start out my day forcing that smile as perhaps some not-so-nice people pass me by, for the sake of people who need my smile. I might force a cheerful, “Good morning! How are you today?” to a child sulking through the hall, even if I feel like sulking myself. All it takes is one kid to smile and yell, “MISS VELTRI!” to actually make me happy.
When you show kindness to other, it often gets shown to you in return-- in my case, especially from my posse of elementary schoolers who seem to have picked up on the power of spreading their joy.
“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” --Wonder