I wonder if they are having a bad day. Are they mad? Are they sad? Were they crying? Are they scared, or afraid? Worried? Troubled?
In the end, even with these questions rolling around in my mind, I still find the urge to smile. Then, after my lips curve up, sometimes a slight smile is returned to me. At that moment, my heart is warmed, and I feel the greatest sensation.
A smile is a visible sign of a state of happiness, enjoyment of good fortune or pleasure. Today, an individual can go a whole day without receiving the faintest smile. They miss out on a warm expression from a friend, from a neighbor, or maybe from a stranger.
Why is it so hard for people to smile? A smile is such a small investment to make, and the rewards are enormous. You smile, the sun shines; you don’t, everyone loses.
When I walk down the street, I smile and make light conversation. Over time, I’ve noticed that not everyone does that. Eventually, it becomes assumed that it isn’t part of many people’s nature.
But the question has to be asked: Why not?
A year ago, I was new in Tracy and my teachers didn’t know my name. My future friends didn’t know a thing about me. The only thing they knew was that I love to smile.
I smile so much, people sometimes think I’m crazy. That has caused me to smile less and laugh more quietly. Why do so many people find it wrong when someone is happy?
Clearly, society and our peers have made being happy something abnormal. The news is not made up of headlines like “Cute puppy finds new home” or “Mrs. Brown found 20 bucks.” Instead, songs are written about lost loves, alcohol abuse, disappointment. People don’t ask why someone is happy. They only demand to find out what’s wrong.
Gossip is made up of cruel truths and mean lies. Society has shaped our way of life into a cold, unsmiling, depressing world.
We need to change this, and we can. One smile at a time.
Instead of walking down the street with a blank face, afraid of showing emotion, we can smile — maybe even flash a toothy grin — and show the world that we will not go quietly into the abyss that causes wrinkles.
I’ll be the one smiling back.
• Rachel Johnson is a junior at Kimball High School who moved to Tracy in 2010. Through Teen Eyes is an occasional column featuring her take on the city she loves to call home.