Why it took me 25 years to smile

I’d look at the camera and pull a face that said, ‘I’m really happy with where I am’. But my face said otherwise.

On holiday with my friends, winning awards, climbing Himalayan mountains, epic fancy dress parties at University, travelling to iconic locations around America, a best friends wedding and graduating from University with 1st Class Honours – I loved every single moment. I was genuinely happy with what I was doing or what I’d achieved. But my face said otherwise. To anyone that didn’t know me they’d have huge doubts over my happiness. And maybe I did too.

I said to myself “hide your teeth because they’re not perfect”, “there’s a really small gap in the front of them, you shouldn’t smile openly, people will judge you”, “you don’t love yourself enough to smile fully”.

Then one day something changed.

I watch an amazing short video called Validation. A story of people overcoming years of learning not to smile. I started to question why I didn’t smile.

Towards the end of 2012 I started the journey of self acceptance – I allowed myself to smile. Each opportunity I’d gradually re-learn how to smile and let myself love it a little more each time. I decided to love my smile.

People suddenly started to comment on my smile. Being so complimentary that I had a lovely smile. At first I doubted their sincerity…‘really? My smile, honesty….I’ve hidden it for years’. My lack of confidence and learned behaviour kept one of my greatest gifts hidden away. All because of my perception of how nice my smile was. And how happy I was with myself at the time. And perhaps what I thought constituted a perfect smile and you needing to have one in order to share it with people.

For me, this was a indication that I more work to do. If I was hiding my smile, what else was I hiding? What other parts of myself was I afraid to express?

All I knew, was that this was a huge step towards a healthy relationship towards myself.

Have a look at the before and after pictures below and add any comments. I included the video at the bottom, it’s only 15 minutes – and so inspiring!

B.S (Before Smiling)

A.S (After Smiling)

Validation – the film that made me smile

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