Just F*cking Smile

Do you see me? I see you. Walking, early on a weekday. This is your time to exercise. It’s my time too. It would be impossible not to see me directly across the street from you, bright pink visor on my head, walking my dog. I dart my eyes your way, ready to receive or instigate a greeting should you look my way. But you don’t. No wave. No smile. No hello. No good morning, even though you know my name and I know yours. Yet you can’t even be bothered to acknowledge my existence. This makes me feel small.

Do you see me? I see you. Running along the street toward me. A mere five feet from me. It’s your morning jog. Kids are at school. This your time to exercise. Mine too. I ready myself to smile, maybe a little wave. I don’t want to bother you. Hell, I certainly don’t want to chat. And even though we live on the same block, you don’t look up. Maybe you didn’t see me? Your eyes are hidden under the visor of your hat. I would give you the benefit of the doubt if this were the first time, but it’s not. No nod. No half-wave. No acknowledgment that I exist. This makes me feel small.

Do you see me? I see you. The flat “hi” you give me at the school function. We know each other. I sit alone at a table. I smile huge, welcoming. Like a stupid dog. You walk past me and find a seat at another table. An empty one. While you wait for someone better to sit with. I’m not good enough, or something. Maybe you just flat-out don’t like me. That happens. It hurts, but I get it. I don’t particularly like you either – nor do I have reason to dislike you – but because you are human, I would’ve sat with you had the tables been turned that day.

I see you, at the grocery checkout counter. The checker and bagger are friendly. I know because I’m in their line weekly. Let’s be honest, bi-weekly, because I’m always out of something. Did you see them? You respond to the checker’s friendly comments in a clipped tone, annoyed to be bothered. You don’t meet their eyes. You don’t smile. You don’t thank the bagger who just packed all your groceries while you stood there examining your manicured nails. I bet this makes them feel small. I’m extra nice to them when it’s my turn, because no one deserves that. You are not better than them. You are not more deserving. You are not special.

I’m not naive enough to think I’m perfect. I’m often lost in the stories that live in my head, and go way too long before calling my parents or reaching out to my friends. I’m sure more than once I’ve been hurried, lost in thought and didn’t see someone who saw me. We’re all busy; it happens. It’s totally probable that my social anxiety was mistaken for aloofness before, too. Perhaps my smile looked forced, or my greeting seemed short and impersonal, and I inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings.

It’s possible my introverted nature made someone feel like I didn’t want to be with them, when the truth is, I adore them, but the social stuff is sometimes too much for me. Everyone has their own stresses and challenges. I get that. For that reason, I’m careful to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I try not to read into it. Try not to judge. It’s not always about me, after all.

But. Because I’m certain some people truly just don’t get it, I will spell it out here:

The tiniest act of kindness can change someone’s entire day. An unsolicited compliment, a nod, a smile – can make people feel like they matter. Can make them feel like they are here too. Like they are a living, breathing soul who matters and not just an invisible crumb that exists in your world.

I’ve had the simple gesture of eye contact mean so much to me I nearly stumbled. 

In the world we live in today, with all the violence, insecurity, competition to be “perfect”, disease, homelessness, fear, constant media awareness of the demented, hateful people that lurk around every corner, hell sometimes around our own Thanksgiving table…would it hurt to make eye contact once in a while? Would it hurt to acknowledge another human’s existence?

No matter our size, shape, ethnicity, culture, baggage, financial status – we will always have a common denominator: we are human beings.

And don’t you dare think you get to decide who deserves or needs acknowledgment. You don’t know anyone’s story. You may think you do, but you don’t. Don’t slather insincere kindness on people you deem to be “less fortunate”, acting like Mother Effing Theresa, only to be selectively cold to others, because you’re jealous, or you view them as competition, or they have nothing to offer you, or simply because your narcissistic head is so far up your ass, you don’t realize that Every. Life. Matters.

Either way.

Just f*cking smile.

You don’t have to hug, or talk, or become best friends. It won’t cost you a thing.

Just f*cking smile.

Because it says, “I see you.”

Because it’s human.

And it’s so easy to do.

And it could make someone’s day.

And kindness is contagious.

And maybe you’ll feel better for it too.

83 comments

  1. Ohemgee, you blogged. And it’s fantastic. I see you, but this you know. I’ve been humping your leg for years now. And yes. Just some kind of acknowledgment goes a long way.

    Last year, M and I were walking home from taking K to school. We pass the same woman every day. She never said hello. Finally one day, Mal said “good morning” to her and she said nothing back. To my sweet little girl. So I said to M that some people just don’t smile. I understand social awkwardness. I understand being shy. I understand having my mind be somewhere else. But I smile. Or wave. Or say hello. Every single time. Because who knows if I’m the only person to acknowledge that person?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I DID! I freaking blogged. Feels good. AND YESSSS SO MUCH THIS: “I understand social awkwardness. I understand being shy. I understand having my mind be somewhere else. But I smile. Or wave. Or say hello. Every single time. Because who knows if I’m the only person to acknowledge that person?”
      ((please never stop humping my leg.))

      Liked by 1 person

  2. AMEN Sister!! I ALWAYS talk to people who are doing something for me, check out clerks, baggers, and servers.. ESPECIALLY servers! I ask them their name or notice it on their badge and make extra effort to say their name to them so they know I KNOW they are there and I thank them! Our grocery store still has people take you groceries to your car and I always talk to them on the way to the car… ALWAYS! No matter how I feel…
    People are so freaking rude! Everyone has a story, everyone has a life and troubles and issues. Sometimes they just need a little kindness… JUST EFFING SMILE ALREADY!! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t begin to express how much this hits me emotionally. How much I have missed your writing…you bring it all to the surface here. I’m blubbering like an idiot – what beautiful words from an even more beautiful woman. Xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so excited to see you blog!

    I’m sad for any time someone didn’t acknowledge you. It SUCKS.

    So my thing is, even though I’m introverted and it’s difficult, to try and make everyone I come into contact with feel like a rock star. A hello, a moment of chatting, a random compliment, whatever it is. Guess what? It’s not even ABOUT how it makes them feel. It’s about how it makes ME feel. I feel like I’m doing what we were put on this earth to do- make people feel loved.
    It takes so little to do that, really. xo

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I know this feeling all too well, Beth. How hard is it to just smile or acknowledge someone and yet people just don’t do it. And just the smallest gesture can make all the difference and usually it makes everyone feel good.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am amazed at how many people don’t acknowledge me when i say “Hello!” or simply smile. I live in the south where people are supposed to be friendly. Now I think people are just rude or lazy or afraid of interaction. The young adults are the worst! I call it the DNA list. (Do not acknowledge.)

    And I’m so glad you wrote something!

    Smiles and speaks from Georgia. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, Paul! It’s been too long, but it felt great to blog again. 🙂 I’m in Texas and usually it’s super friendly here. Honestly, most people are great – but the ones that aren’t ruin it for the rest of us, you know? I haven’t noticed it being worse with young adults, but I take your word for it. DNA – hahaha I like that.

      Like

  7. When I was a young woman, I never smiled, chatted folks up, made eye contact. I realized I was terribly lonely and forced myself to change. My life has been so much better because I did.

    So hello. Have a great day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Elyse! ((psssst, the main character of my next novel is named Elyse! I chose it because I like it, but also because it’s my BFF’s middle name))
      Thanks for reading and chiming in, I appreciate it. I’m infinitely glad that you changed and now have a less lonely life. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

          1. It’s Elyse, named after my great Aunt, who was a nurse in WWI. She was a 1st generation German, and nursed German soldiers at the front with the first American Red Cross contingent. Family lore says that when the US joined on the other side, Kaiser Wilhelm halted all U-boats and gave the nurses safe passage home.

            Liked by 1 person

  8. I so love this. We are hard wired for connection!! When I see someone who doesn’t want to reach out and connect, the biggest thing that runs through my mind is that they are effing miserable inside (when it’s someone you see often enough and it’s a pattern). Or as you said, it could just be a bad day. And that’s when someone else acknowledging me, whether it’s a smile, or a quick friendly conversation at the check out, can bring me out of a funk.

    Beautifully expressed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you! Yes, we ARE hard wired for connection. That’s the reason eye contact is so powerful. It reaches so much farther than the eyes, you know? And even if eye contact isn’t comfortable, or possible, the smile/nod/wave can easily takes its place to just make someone felt seen. And yeah, you have to think people who close themselves off are very lonely and miserable.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. 🙂 I will start laying out the posts this week. If you have any good ideas for the letter U let me know – it’s the only one I’m still a bit unsure (haha) about. As an author if you want to write a vampire book with a “U” named character in the future, that would be SUPER helpful. Just sayin’.

            Like

  9. Have you ever noticed how much easier it is for your mouth to turn up into a smile than it is to turn down to a frown? Choose the easier option, people! I see you, Beth, and I’m grinning like crazy:)

    Like

  10. So good. I’m a big believer in the smile and “hi” hell, I’ll even take my headphones out of my ears lol! I always feel sorry for people that find it so hard to even make eye contact – not in a patronising way, but just in the fact that they are missing those small human interactions. But I get it.
    I do get it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Meg! I agree, and as I was educated and reminded by a good friend (T. Tombs), eye contact isn’t always easy for people – in fact, it can be downright excruciating, so I’m not suggesting that’s the only or best way to connect, but really just ANY acknowledgement, a nod/glance/smile/wave….it doesn’t take much, you know? I SEE YOU can be conveyed in the tiniest of movements.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Beth blogged!!! Missed your voice!! ❤

    I initially thought your first two paragraphs were opposite sides of the same exchange. I wonder how often that stuff feeds off itself. Being kind is such a simple, small thing and it can make such a difference.

    Glad you're back! I'd hug you but it's awkward 'cause…. y'know…..Mandi… 🙂

    Like

    1. Can you believe it? I guess it just takes me being pissed enough and then I’ll write. haha

      I can see how that looks like two perspectives of the same encounter! It also, I’ve realized, looks as though all the paragraphs are the same person, when in fact, each was a different one.

      effing Mandi, always getting in the way….. 😉

      Like

  12. Hi there! 😊 I always smile & say hello/good morning…. if a car beeps, even if its not for me but somebody behind me for example, I still wave! I chat to people in queues/checkouts 😳 …. life is too short to be miserable!

    Like

  13. That stinks! No excuse for that. When we moved to NC from Florida I wasn’t used to people being so friendly. People waving as they drive by, walk by etc. Though it took some getting used to, it didn’t take me long to wave, smile etc. Now if someone in the neighborhood does that I say, “They must me new here.” Maybe she’s from Florida.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. KENYA. I haven’t made the official announcement yet, but guess what’s available on audible.com RIGHT NOW!!! Yep. And it was all motivated by a little twitter DM I got from a lovely lady (YOU) at the beginning of the year, asking if I was making Oo7 available on audio. Thank you!!!! Are you an audible member? I should be getting a bunch of free credits to give away…..:)

      And thanks for reading and your lovely comment. It’s funny, Texans are really friendly as a rule. Most people here are amazing. It’s the few that ruin it for the rest of us. I always assumed NY people would be really stand-offish, but they are some of the nicest people ever, whereas, for instance, Colorado-ans are surprisingly stand-offish. *shrugs* you just never know. Oh and btw, the post, I realize now, reads like this was all one person, but it was actually a collection that built up over the last few weeks, resulting in this post.

      Like

      1. OMG I’m so excited! Yes I am an audible member! That’s so wonderful. I hope that opens some big doors! Yes please to the free credit, I would love to listen to it “like new”!

        P.S. Glad that wasn’t just one person. But still – dang.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You got it, my friend! I should get my codes this week and I”ll email one to ya. You were the one who motivated me to do it, after all! ❤ ((After listening, please review on audible; i need to build reviews there. TIA!))

          Like

  14. Oh Beth, YES! YES to it all. There are some people that will never get it. Never realize how significant their demeanor is, their aloof behavior has an impact on others, how they actually LOOK from another’s perspective.

    I’ve felt small too. I understand.

    And I have social anxiety too. People never believe me, because I’m so outgoing- but I am ALWAYS nervous. And I get really stupid and try too hard when I’m anxious… people just think I’m funny and engaging. I try to be just that- but underneath, it is taking every ounce of energy to be me. I’m a dichotomy though- I LOVE connecting… I LOVE interacting with people… but I often find myself a bundle of nerves. And sometimes going to big events is just too overwhelming, so I stay home.

    Anyhoo…

    You be you.

    Let those who disconnect coldly from the world go…

    They are often the ones hurting most.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are so much alike, Chris. It’s insane. And this:”They are often the ones hurting most.” <so true. Congrats again on your book release! SO SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!! ❤ In fact, I think my copy came in the mail today! WOOOOT! I'm giving it to my mom, who is a woman of faith AND is not only still recouping from last year's back surgery, but is having another back surgery next month AND has MS. I know your book will be a much needed companion. love you to pieces, lady. ❤

      Like

  15. Hello, beautiful Beth! 💜 Their loss if they didn’t acknowledge you!! I’ve come to accept that some people are not capable or willing to see beyond their own little worlds or lives. They can’t get past their own thoughts or bubbles to notice or care. I used to get angry and frustrated until I decided not to expect it but instead, go out of my way to acknowledge them (almost force them to acknowledge me). I agree that any act of kindness no matter how small can make a world of difference to that person!! 💚💜❤️😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My sweet Maria!!! ❤ ❤ I love this:" I’ve come to accept that some people are not capable or willing to see beyond their own little worlds or lives. They can’t get past their own thoughts or bubbles to notice or care." << truth.
      you are a beautiful soul. I will follow your example and try harder to initiate or just not let it get to me. love yer guts my smexy friend. xo

      Like

  16. So good to see your post! And this particular post rocks so much! You pulled the words right out of my head. There’s so much hate these days, just a smile can change the tone of the day.

    I am smiling back at you now! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. See now I woulda been the FRIST comment on here if my phone would ever let me comment on a blog…so I left one on FB. But seriously how hard is it to be just a little polite? I always wonder that when I get my introverted self all set to say hello and smile and the other person puts their head down or looks away instead of answering!!! A little kindness goes a long way. And I’ve been the cranky bitch. I have. I think maybe it had a lot to do with being in an unhappy place in life or feeling like nobody gave a crap if my day was awful…or whatever. I’ve found that I feel so much better being the one to reach out (hate that little buzzword term) and just be pleasant for crying out loud. Love that you wrote this and that you wrote on your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. *shakes fists at sky* Damnnnnn phones and commenting! I hate that! You are far too kind to not only comment on my FB post but here! You didn’t have to do that, but I’m glad you did. The more I see you, the better. 🙂
      Yeah, I think in the future, I will just be sad for those people that aren’t nice. They must be very unhappy. Like trolls…..you just can’t take the hate they spew seriously. They are angry, sad people.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “The more I see you, the better.” Day made, woman! That was so very nice to say. I came back to comment because I know how happy it makes me when I have comments on my actual blog, so I like to do the same when I have something to say.
        I DO feel sorry for people like that. Truly. What a lousy way to go through life.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. You wrote it yourself. You don’t know everyone’s story nor should you dare to ascertain that you do. They may have a reason not to smile. Is there a reason you don’t wave and say, “hello” first? Seems you want others to make the first move. Perhaps you should instead.

    Like

    1. If you had actually read this post about COMPASSION and UNDERSTANDING, you wouldn’t have needed to leave this comment. But, I’ll give you the benefit of doubt and help you out:

      “I dart my eyes your way, ready to receive or instigate a greeting should you look my way. But you don’t.”
      -and-
      “I smile huge, welcoming. Like a stupid dog. You walk past me and find a seat at another table.”
      -and-
      “Everyone has their own stresses and challenges. I get that. For that reason, I’m careful to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I try not to read into it. Try not to judge. It’s not always about me, after all. But. Because I’m certain some people truly just don’t get it, I will spell it out here:”

      My rant was clearly directed at serial assholes. My theme was just that kindness wins. Always. Have a lovely day, and thank you for reading. xo

      Liked by 3 people

  19. Not real sure how I ended up here but glad I did. As a runner I always wave, smile and say good morning/evening to the people I pass on the road. Some speak back others just turn their head like they don’t see me. It’s the ones that don’t speak I take personally and it turns into a challenge to me. Most of the time it is the same people I see on my runs so I get multiple opportunities to engage these fine folks. I will continue to offer a smile or a verbal comment regardless if they acknowledge me because we never know how much a f*cking smile could mean to someone. Thanks for a great post and reminding us all a simple acknowledgement can go a long way in someone’s life.

    Like

    1. I’m very glad you ended up here too, Lee! Thanks for reading and for the lovely comment. I LOVE that you always acknowledge people on your runs! Good for you. The people who continually ignore you….shame on them. Their loss. It’s incredibly insulting to ignore someone’s kindness. Have a wonderful day! 🙂

      Like

        1. Hey Ken! You absolutely can link Tara Wood’s post here! She’s a friend of mine and I LOVEADORE that story about her daughter and the elderly man she befriended. Sweetest thing EVER.
          Thanks so much for reading and responding, Ken! You have a wonderful day too! 🙂

          Like

  20. Hi Beth! I would totally smile and nod at you and you would flash your great smile back and we’d have a great little moment!

    Then I would inadvertently look at your chest or ass and you’d catch me and sneer and I’d say, “goddamit, Don! You did it again.” Sorry. Love you though and love that people still recognize how little tiny things like a smile can really make another persons day. It’s so true.

    Like

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