I write this post as part self-reflection, part sincere advice, and part personal investigation as I ponder the many years in which I have exercised this particular quirk of mine with absolutely no discretion.
The act of making faces.
I probably first became aware of my incredibly expressive face when I was in kindergarten and my parents came home one evening from the standard parent-teacher conference. They walked through the door, turned away from my (unfortunately for me) impeccably well-behaved twin sister, and looked at me with puzzlement etched in their very posture. “Ishani, your teacher says you make faces in class…and she’s not sure if you’re angry while she’s teaching.” Now, not to worry, this statement seems no less bizarre 14 years later than it did at that moment. “But I’m not!” I insisted, angry that is. I was perfectly happy at school as far as I could recall from the three hours that had elapsed since I had gotten off the school bus that day. In fact, I distinctly remember loving school. That was the first time that I realized that I might not be completely aware of what exactly was playing across my face as I sat and happily gulped down the words my teachers were saying from the blackboard.
Now I’m a sophomore in college, and to be honest, not much has changed. Perhaps my friends just know, well, that’s the face Ishani makes at this and this moment or when she’s feeling sad/angry/happy/crazy. Luckily, they accept me the way I am. But now, shifting away from the self-reflection part, I’ve actually come to value my unbelievable (though admittedly, sometimes inconvenient) expressiveness. I think it’s healthy. We spend too much time worrying about looking one way or another–whether it is attentive after a particularly late night, or interested even though we have another thought bobbing enthusiastically in our mind’s eye, happy even though we’ve been feeling a bit down lately, or sad because we’ve been guilted into it. Happy is the one emotion that I think most people have little problem expressing, but once in a while, I can’t help but feel that we shouldn’t be afraid to let it all hang out there and express the other emotions that don’t get nearly as much airtime.
You see, the fact that my face is clearly indicative of how I’m feeling at any given moment has certainly made things awkward at times. But that doesn’t mean that I regret the fact that my face is completely honest even when I feel like I can’t be. In turn, my face works hard to keep me honest.
It also keeps no one guessing. As one of my blockmates would say, “Ishani, you have NO filter!” While I know she means this at least half-humorously, there is a portion of this statement that is undeniably true. My filter can be lacking when I speak, just as it is when you look at me and my expression relays absolutely everything I’m thinking. Maybe I regret not being so good at all those bluffing games growing up, or that my friends are just insanely good at catching me at my best (and worst), but hey–I hope you can take this as a constructive piece of advice, an experiment if you will. For one day, I challenge you to be unapologetically expressive, no matter how you’re feeling as you roll out of bed in the morning. I think you’ll find that in a world where we all seem to be increasingly busy (but hopefully happily so), it can be unbelievably refreshing to be and say and do what we feel. You’ll be surprised how many people you relate to that way.
Some things never change.