Some people have resting bitch face. I have resting bitch voice.
Oh, I have resting bitch face, too. If I had a nickel for every time someone has told me to smile, I’d be in jail, because, dammit, DON’T tell me to smile. I’m not your dancing monkey.
Resting bitch voice is a whole other thing, and the struggle is real, y’all. I don’t mean to sound mean, impatient, superior or accusatory, but apparently I do. As my very patient husband tells me, “I know you’re nice, but sometimes I don’t think you know how you sound to other people.”
Part of it is impatience with other women who always feel as if they must make themselves smaller? And who end every sentence with a question mark? And who are accommodatingly sweet and meek and indecisive? And who, when they defer to men in business settings, make it harder for the rest of us?
Part of it may be that for much of my career I was often the only woman in a room full of men, and if I wanted to be taken seriously, I needed to appear confident and communicate as they did—factually, unemotionally, and with the clear assumption that I am someone to reckon with.
And part of it is that I have always had an inner sense of confidence, and I project that to the world. Not sure it it’s from being an oldest child, intelligent in a way that tests well and gets recognition from adults, or if I was just born this way, but from a very young age I was not afraid to speak my mind and felt quite confident that my opinions had worth—and were correct.
No matter the reason, what started off as natural confidence as mutated into something else. I confess, sometimes I do sound condescending or impatient.
And if I’m honest, sometimes it’s because that’s exactly what I’m feeling. Yeah, I do know better than you how to do x, y and z. And no, I don’t understand why you didn’t get what we’re talking about the first five times. That’s dangerous in my line of work, which involves customer service, and not very helpful in daily interactions with regular people, either; no one likes to be condescended to.
But most of the time, I’m just plugging along, stressing about the 18 million balls I have in the air. Juggling work, kids, relationship, and oh yeah, self care. Being the best me I can: mom, wife, employee, boss, co-worker, daughter, sister, friend.
And sometimes, the best me doesn’t always police her tone of voice and a little bit (maybe a lot) of the stress shines through.
I’m pretty sure I don’t owe strangers a smile. They’ll have to live with my resting bitch face. But I do think I owe everyone a kinder version of me. Strangers deserve courtesy. Colleagues deserve professionalism. Friends and family deserve love and respect, and shouldn’t believe I think badly of them. Because in our crazy, sad, scary world, a little kindness goes a long way.
But man, do NOT tell me to smile.