No matter what you're going through in life, there is an exceedingly heavy expectation to smile through it and pretend negative thoughts or situations aren't happening. The truth is: this is not a healthy way to handle your life. Specifically, this is unhealthy for women.
Faking happiness can lead to a huge decrease in self-confidence.
I'm going to challenge the cult of positive thinking here for a second and say this: have you ever felt really drained after a day of faking it to the world? Do you ever go home at the end of it feeling like you're worse off than you started when you were just lying in your bed trying to figure out how you'd get through this?
So does everyone else.
There are millions of dollars invested in industries that provide affirmations and 'secrets' to feeling happier, but more studies are showing that you are actually increasing your awareness of negative thoughts by masking them. Women are being buried alive by the expectation that they are supposed to be loving, nurturing, smile machines.
What's the real secret? Be authentic.
How do we foster authenticity when everything is going to shit?
I'm not here to tell you that smiling when you're feeling down won't get some of those happy juices flowing, or that reading your daily affirmation calendar won't give you a better day to look forward to. I will say this though; it is 100% OK to have a bad day. It is acceptable to not feel like you're winning. You are allowed to have resting bitch face when somehow the rent is short this month, you didn't sleep at all because the baby was up all night screaming, you're adjusting to new meds, or you read the depressing-ass newspaper this morning and just can't with today. DO NOT FAKE YOUR HAPPINESS.
Instead, PROCESS those feelings.
Reach out to your support network for help. If you don't have a support network - reach out to me. Snuggle with your dog. Take the day off and make a blanket fort on your couch while you watch golden girls. Plug your headphones in and listen to some 80s hip hop. Make yourself a double peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Punch a picture of the president. Take the longest bath of your life. Kidnap someone and carry them to the top of a building while you swat at biplanes (oh wait, that's king kong...)
But for the love of all things - never ever feel like you need to smile for the benefit of someone else.
Your feelings are worth more than that. YOU are worth more than that.