You Don’t Owe the World a Smile

January 15, 2021

You don’t owe the world your smile. You don’t have to Nat King Cole your way through grief and heartbreak. You don’t have to fill your face with upward lines and a faked curve to make the world more comfortable or radiant. 

You know the song: “Smile, though your heart is aching. Smile, even though it’s breaking….. Smile, what’s the use of crying. You’ll find that life is still worthwhile if you just smile.” 

I’d much rather choose joy over heartbreak, but the harsh thing about life is that it isn’t our choice to make. We don’t choose heartbreak and loss, it finds us, and when it does, the world prays we show up smiling and resilient. But the truth is, that’s a process not some immediate transformation. It’s not as quick as the flip of a switch, it’s a long and daunting and unpredictable path. A path flooded with tears, fogged by confusion, and clouded with immense and debilitating pain.

You don’t have to hide the traces of sadness. You don’t have to smile. You don’t have to fake it or pretend, even when you feel the weight of the world telling you to. Your story has been completely rewritten without your consent. Your heart and soul have suddenly been given new chapters and endings that you weren’t expecting. As you continue to read and comprehend this sudden twist you don’t need to wear a smile of strength, courage, and healing like some kind of fancy makeup, masking the true surface underneath. 

You don’t owe the world a smile. 

You don’t owe the world false healing or make-belief hope.

You don’t owe the world infallible strength or indestructible courage.

You don’t owe the world a thing, not one thing. 

This is your story. This is your grief. This is your journey.

You don’t have to smile through an aching heart.

You don’t have to smile through fear and sorrow.

You don’t have to light your face with gladness and hide the traces of sadness.

You don’t owe the world a smile.

One day you’ll smile again from the depths of your heart and soul, not because the world wanted you to, but because you were ready. 

xox, Chels

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Chelsea Ohlemiller

Chelsea Ohlemiller

A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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