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To Those Who Wake Up and Put a 'Fake Smile' on Their Face

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Many people with chronic illness or mental illness can relate to waking up every morning and having to put a fake smile on their face. I do it as well. But recently, I stopped to ask myself a question.


Why do we use the amount of time and effort it takes to pretend to be something we aren’t? Why do we pretend to be what we wish we were, only to drag ourselves further from our dream?

I thought about this a lot because I do it as well. What I realized is this:

I think we push ourselves to act as if we are something that doesn’t even exist.

We may want to blend in with the crowd and be “normal.” But no one really knows what “normal” is. To many people, “normal” might be healthy. “Normal” might be happy. “Normal” might be OK. But otherwise, I don’t think anyone really knows much about this “normal.” Would it have brown hair? Red? Black? Blonde? Natural? Dyed? Would it be tall or short?

I don’t think “normal” exists, and I don’t think anyone truly wants it to exist, either. I don’t want to be the same as everyone else. For me that’d be boring and awful and torture in so many ways.

So why do we pretend to be something that doesn’t exist and we don’t want to exist, other than “because everyone else is doing it?” There’s no good reason to justify pretending to be something that doesn’t even exist as we exhaust ourselves further.

So what if we were real?

What if we let down the mask and showed our true face? What if we allowed ourselves and each other to laugh and cry and leap and shake and dance and sob naturally? What if we didn’t judge our differences but accepted them and each other as we are? What if we embraced our challenges and triumphs and breakdowns and let them pull us together as one instead of shoving us apart?

If we were real, it would be beautiful. If we were real, we’d come together as one, sharing a common goal: to build each other up according to their needs. We’d never be alone, we’d have more energy, less stress, and more joy.

I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, that sounds pretty sweet. Less struggling and exhaustion and more energy and joy. Why wouldn’t we want that?

So let’s be real. Let’s make life beautiful.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: May 12, 2016
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