Smiling at Strangers

December 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

People seem to smile at me more these days. That’s great, because it’s one of the things they say on Making Slough Happy to brighten your days.

The problem is I look away as soon as I’m smiled at. Years of social conditioning means I’m suspicious of people that smile at me, at least for half a second before I remember it’s ok to smile back. I end up looking away, then smiling as I do it, then feeling silly because I didn’t properly smile at them and they deserve a proper smile. Guilty too. I don’t know if they’re smiling because they’ve seen me smile at them before – perhaps I know all these people and just can’t remember their faces, but that’s unlikely! I thought once, perhaps they’ve seen me sing or seen something I’ve done on the internet? (Blogging or youtube or something – nothing dirty, don’t worry.)

More likely, I seem like someone who might smile back. I wear bright colours, I’m a young woman, and sometimes I nod my head or tap my fingers when I listen to music in public. I laugh when I listen to comedy on my iPod. I’m sure there are some people who find it odd that someone with headphones is laughing by herself, but I don’t know anyone on the tube, so what difference could it make?

Potentially – it could make people smile at me.

I’m going to make a big effort to smile back next time.

Oh, another important element is that it’s often women about my age that smile at me. I find it much easier to smile at an old person or children. Maybe it’s something to do with competition? Maybe it’s easier to emotionally connect to a vulnerable stranger than one that probably doesn’t need any help? There’s probably a better reason I don’t know about. It could just be that these women are coming on to me, or it could be that smiling at strangers makes them happy. I guess either is good!

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