As I was working at a convention the other day, a doctor who was standing in my display started smiling strangely at me. I was talking to him about a product, and then simultaneously wondering if I had lipstick on my nose.
No matter how confidently and seriously I described the products he wanted to know about (and I’m quite the expert on bizarre, arcane topics I never thought I’d know about, such as medical self-assessment credits (this comes from working a colorful variety of tradeshows for over 10 years)), he continued his series of bizarre facial expressions. I was able to mostly ignore this, and after he left I immediately grabbed my phone and went into selfie mode, checking my face for stray chocolate. But there were no blemishes to be found.
And this has happened to me with other customers and other attendees at other shows. This has happened to me with multiple people, when strange smiles come up for no reason, or people look annoyed or unpleasant out of nowhere. But many times, the mystery remains unsolved- my customer buys the product I’m selling or continues to listen to my presentation or gives me the information I need from them. I continue with my day, baffled by certain expressions not matching what a person is actually feeling. I remain unsettled and uncertain for quite awhile.
I’m a big face reader and feeling reader, and I’ve recently realized that my feelings are often based on how people around me are acting. If I feel like people are upset, I can get upset. If I feel like people are laughing at me, I get worried. If I feel like people aren’t understanding what I’m saying because they don’t respond affirmatively with ‘uh-huhs’ and head nods, I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
And because I’m such a good face and feeling reader most of the time, I get thrown by people who are bad socializers, and affirmators- who don’t act the way they feel, or who look upset even when all is well. Or people who don’t affirm to me that things are okay. In other words..umm, I’m sorta sensitive…
But is it really worth getting thrown off by these people who make me feel anxious? They likely don’t feel how I think they feel, and if they do, who the hell cares? It’s not helpful to get stressed about it. I mean, so what if I have a spaghetti noodle on my face while talking to someone? I mean, that sucks, and it probably wouldn’t be the best thing for my professional career, but it won’t help to freak out inside. Maybe I’m the one judging myself in the harshest way.
So perhaps the major life lesson I take from this is to take my cues from myself and not from others. It’s hard to keep my happiness levels steady if the bizarre expressions and possible bad moods of everyone around me bring me down. Maybe I need to be the one to bring people up! Even if they’re secretly laughing at me- screw ’em! Let them laugh- maybe I’m simply funny!