I just saw a photo on Instagram of a girl with a big smile and a caption “I am asked if I smile like this all the time and the answer is YES”. This reminded me of myself almost 10 years ago, right after I got my first corporate job. Back then, I was quite often getting praised for my big smiles and happy mood.
Here comes the feedback
After a few months in corporate surrounding, I received a feedback on my smiles. The feedback came from my boss. She said that two of my senior co-workers (a female and a male) told her to tell me (talking about corporate culture of open communication) that I was smiling too much and that openly showing that I am happy is not appropriate. Just a side note, this feedback was not a cultural thing. We don’t have a norm in our culture that it is not ok to smile. On the contrary, it’s actually nice to openly show that you are happy.
The feedback really got to me, since my smiles were sincere – I was really happy seeing some of the people in the hallway and I smiled to them.
I gave in
Year by year, surrounded by people holding back their emotions, working a lot on tasks that I don’t really believe in, I gave in and lost my smile. Today, I get feedback, in the same surrounding, from a bit different people, that I don’t smile enough. And all I want to do is say: “Well, F**K you all! Go sort your own lives and stop messing with my own!” But deep down, I know they are not the real problem. My need to please everyone is.
Trying to please everyone
Too often I try to match others expectations, not being aware that by doing so, I am loosing the sense of myself. I am decreasing the volume of my voice, what I want and how I want to live. And feedbacks telling me what I should or shouldn’t do are not feedbacks at all. They are cries from other people not living the lives they want to live. I believe our frustrations with our own life motivate us to “correct” other people’s lives. And while “correcting” others lives, we don’t actually see them, we don’t hear their inner voices. At that particular moment, we don’t have the capacity to care because we are too involved with our own frustrations and projecting them on others.
That is how I see it.
The smile is still here
I was trying to find appropriate photo for this post and, while searching, what hit me is how many photos I have of me solo and with other people, close to me, smiling, showing my teeth, shining happiness. New and old photos. The smile is still here, shining from within, in the surroundings I’m enjoying, feeling safe and feeling like my true self. Maybe it’s time for me to change my working surrounding and my scope of work since I don’t feel like I can be myself here, working on tasks I don’t really believe in.
Written with love,