It took me about half a second to type an instant message to my boss after I saw the photo. The one from the night before, about a year or so ago maybe. From an awards ceremony, where we won. Where there were a bunch of my peers.
Remind me to never make that face again.
That’s what I sent to her. Because, I was making this face I make, it seems, all the time.
Eyes open big. Mouth wide open. So you can see alllll of my teeth. Slightly red face, because I’m pumped. A crinkled forehead, likely. And my neck tense, pulled in as if I’m holding my breath.
Just. Ugh. I needed to stop this look.
But other events came and went. Over the months and over the years. Adventures came and went, to Breckenridge and Idaho and Maui and Montana.
And within those adventures, those awards ceremonies, those visits with friends and moments with kids, there was that face again.
I only realized I couldn’t stop making that face when I stumbled upon a photo of me with my preschool class. We were freezing, in a sleigh, in the snow, and my hood was pulled down tight around my face. Tight.
But there was the expression I’ve come to expect from myself. Mouth open, as usual.
It’s in my DNA! It has been for years. It’s one of those things that just happens, unconsciously. I’m not trying to be a dork, I’m just effortlessly good at it.
And then I took another look at it. In all those photos I’m having an amazing time. I’m in an amazing place. I’m experiencing something amazing. I’m either freezing, or winning, or being surprised, or in awe, or in love or just generally loving life. You get the idea. Like, that face is me.
That expression is so signature to my personality, why would I want to change it? I know I have the ability to give a normal smile seconds before or seconds after the dorky open-mouthed one, so why go and try to alter my natural reaction — which very clearly illustrates the energy that buzzes around inside me?
Because that’s what we do. We measure ourselves against others. And wish we had things we don’t, or wish we didn’t do things we did — like smile like a spaz with our mouths open. All the time.
I’m just not going to cringe about it anymore. Because, for a girl who loses her eyes altogether when she smiles normally, at least those gap-mouthed ones prove I can see.