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Learning how to smile

Today on “things that should have tipped us all off that I was autistic but didn’t” we have the fact that I painstakingly taught myself how to smile when I was in middle school.

I don’t recall if there was an element of shame or external pressure for this. I don’t remember explicitly being told that I should learn to smile or that my smile was weird. It’s certainly possible that I was told that and just don’t remember. However even if I was told that, this little project of mine was still primarily self-driven.

I myself had noticed after looking at photos of myself, that my smile was a little awkward. And when I was in middle school, I made a friend who had just the most beautiful and photogenic smile. I remember looking at a photograph of this friend and trying to figure out what they were doing differently from me.

What I zeroed in on was that when I smiled, you could see both my top teeth and my bottom teeth. But when my friend smiled, you could only see their top teeth. The position of lips was just higher up and yet it resulted in such a nicer smile. So what did I do? I sat in front of a mirror and practiced making my face do that.

I don’t remember how much I practiced or for how long. I do remember that I would consciously control how I smiled for some time before it eventually became 99% natural and subconscious. It probably took a few months if not longer.

I think my smile now is quite nice and I owe it all to my middle-school friend Danny. Thanks, Danny for your beautiful smile. 😂

By the way, the reason no one ever thought, “huh, that’s an odd thing to do” back then was because I did it in secret and just never told anyone I was doing it. I was chatting with my mom just this week when it came up and she definitely thought it was an odd thing to do. Oh, well.

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