We all have heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This is absolutely true. I have learned that as someone with a chronic illness, to look deeper than the surface that is presented. The smile that is flashed for Instagram or Facebook. If you look behind the smile and examine the eyes, wonder what is deeper and look you see a deeper story and not the facade presented to the world. Yesterday, I took one of those pictures. I was getting ready for our Daughters of the American Revolution meeting, and I decided to take that selfie we all take once in awhile. I had actually taken a few extra precious minutes that cost me dearly; those minutes to raise my arms above my head, to apply some make-up, to make that additional effort. My pain level was about a seven starting the day, and I knew I had thirty-five minutes of drive time to get to our luncheon, then a board meeting followed by a sit-down lunch. I had to maintain the facade. I had to fake the smile. I had to hide the pain as much as possible.
What does the smile hide? We don’t want the attention; so we smile. The facade hides the dreams that have been forced to be put aside. The hopes that you have given up on. What does the smile hide? The smile hides the physical pain; we hope by smiling nobody notices the subtle constant shifting to alleviate pain. The eyes that betray fatigue and that pain. The smile we hope hides that we know we will pay for this outing, these hours.
Why do we hide behind the smile? Honestly? Sometimes it’s just easier. Sometimes it’s easier to smile and say “I’m fine,” than to tell the truth. It’s easier to just hide behind the smile. Those who know us intimately probably know that we aren’t fine, but they trust that we will share what’s going on if and when we need to. Sometimes we hide because we don’t want to worry those closest to us. We put those closest to us through enough and hiding behind a smile from time to time is just easier.
What is behind the smile? Learn to look deeper. Everyone has a story, everyone is going through something. The challenge becomes looking deeper. I challenge each of us to go deeper; look beyond the surface and seek answers if only it is to offer a genuine smile to that person. What is being said behind the smile?