To the person who made me fall in love with my smile-
I don’t think you’ve ever seen photos of my younger self, but if you did, you would notice one common feature amongst all of them. I never really smiled in any of those. Even when the photographer called out “Smile please!” all I could muster was a half-assed, one sided curve of my lips. Maybe it was because I was self-conscious or maybe it was because I felt that it was strange to just artificially curve your lips upwards while looking at the camera. It’s not that I never smiled or laughed- it’s just that I did so very rarely when I was younger, only when it was absolutely uncontrollable.
And then there you were with your cute dimpled smile and that air of innocence. I have no idea what magic you had, considering we started off on a completely wrong foot where you almost made me cry the first time we actually talked. You consistently annoyed me and knew exactly how to hit a nerve. You said the stupidest things all the time and they never made sense to me. Actually, when I come to think of it now, you are still a complete mystery to me. Whether you understand what you’re saying, whether you really mean everything you say, what you’re feeling all the time. You are a walking paradox- you could be completely honest about your emotions and still make me feel like I don’t understand a thing about you. But the one thing I do remember is that despite how much you annoyed me every day, you also lifted up my spirits automatically.
One day when we were just going about our routines as usual, you just suddenly said, “You have a nice smile. You really should smile more often”. And you said this in the most off-handed and guileless manner as if it was such an ordinary thing to say. Well maybe it was ordinary for you, but this was the first time that when someone said this, it felt like it was a genuine observation and not just somebody expecting a compliment in return. Let me clarify that it was not that you were the first one to say this- people had told me this before but it felt like they just wanted me to say something good about them in return- and that’s exactly what I did. I have no idea if you even have any recollection of saying this to me but let me tell you that it had me thinking the rest of the day.
The minute I entered my house, I went straight to the mirror and flashed a grin. This was the girl who nearly lost the lead role in a play in the 4th grade because she wasn’t smiling enough to portray the cheerful protagonist. I wanted to know what you found so special about my smile which I had disliked for the longest time. So I stood in front of the mirror for five whole minutes, trying to look at my smile from every angle. And guess what? Five minutes later I was able to convince myself that maybe my smile was not so bad after all and there was definitely no reason to ration my smiles.
That evening, I was reveling in my new found appreciation of smiling. I was beaming at everyone I saw the rest of the day and I could see that it was infectious- even my parents were secretly smiling at each other after seeing me. And that’s the day I realized the power of a smile. My cheek muscles were really hurting at the end of the day but I didn’t care. I had finally learnt to love my smile and maybe now I wouldn’t run the risk of losing a lead role just because I wasn’t smiling enough. I started smiling more and more from then onwards and now it’s hard to stop.
Sometimes, I do get sad and stop smiling but all I need to do is recall the day you made my view of myself change and I start smiling. I am indebted to you for this, but even more than that, I’m so glad that you helped me take a step forward in loving myself. People don’t talk enough about this but overcoming insecurities is not easy and you helped me take my one giant leap. I hope you read this someday and know that you once made a girl very happy and taught her how she could spread this infectious happiness.