Take that frown off of your face.
That was a statement I’d heard quite a bit since I turned 10. A scowl of any kind prompted my mother, and even my grandmothers, to tell me to stop. I was “too pretty to frown,” so for the most part it wasn’t allowed. I had nothing to be sad about, so the face was unnecessary. At least, this is what I was told.
I most definitely don’t blame them for instilling this in me. It’s true. No one likes a scowl. People tend to not care why you’re frowning, they just want you to stop before you cause them to do the same. Most of my life I’ve tried to be accommodating. I’ve worked on finding the joy in things, and keeping a smile on my face whenever possible. The problem with that is I tend to hide my sadness.
Sadness wasn’t allowed in my mindset. I pushed it away as soon as it came into play. I didn’t want to show it on the outside, and didn’t want to feel it on the inside. While I never wanted to display sadness, I somehow had no problem sharing anger from time to time. Sadness was weakness, I told myself. Anger comes with authority. People get angry for real reasons. Sadness is something that’s selfish.
Yesterday, I took my two oldest kids to see Inside Out. This movie, based around the basic emotions that we feel as humans, took me by surprise. I was expecting the usual Disney animated movie; full of fun songs, jokes that everyone in the family can laugh at, and a heartfelt story that leaves you all warm and gooey. Well, we experienced all of that, but the emotional aspect of the movie hit me hard.
I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but the role of sadness really stuck with me. Mostly because I’ve caught myself telling my oldest to hide his frown lately. I’ve been starting the cycle again, and from watching Inside Out, I realized what damage I could be doing to him. He’ll be 10 in just a few short weeks. He’s been struggling with his emotions for the past few months, and I’ve looked at him like a stranger, not realizing I know EXACTLY how he’s feeling. I know what pressures his emotions are putting on him. I know that he’s trying his hardest to hide his sadness. He’s just like me.
There’s a secret to the importance of sadness. It keeps all of our other emotions going. It’s just as important as fear, anger and joy. It’s what makes us who we are inside. To grieve is to remember, and sometimes those memories are filled with pain and pleasure. We may miss people that we’ve lost, or experiences that we’ve had, but with the sadness comes the bright light haphazardly spotted throughout.
I cried my eyes out during Inside Out. Partially because my baby boy will be 10 soon, and I was anticipating all that he’s going to go through over the next few years. But, I cried for me too. I cried for the sadness I refused to let myself feel over the years, and the joy I felt once I realized that it was OK to just feel. It’s fine to scowl. Because after the frown, comes the most genuine smiles you’ll ever create.