I have a hidden talent.
I didn't used to see it as a talent. It was just a thing that I did, that I liked to do. But, over time, I've begun to recognize it as a talent.
Not just a talent... it's my superpower.
For years, I've had strangers stop me... usually old men (it's less creepy than it sounds... I think older people just care less about being weird)... and they would say, "I just had to tell you that you have the most beautiful smile."
I would say my thanks... but I sort of always thought it was the kind of thing you'd say to be nice to the overweight girl. You know how you say... "Well, she has a really nice personality..." when you couldn't say she was gorgeous and svelte? I thought it was like that... and so I appreciated it, but I always thought it was a cop-out compliment. The best someone could come up with when they couldn't come up with anything else.
But... as time has gone by, as my body shape has changed, as I've grown in self-confidence... I still get the same comments. But more, I've begun to pay attention to the power that a smile has -- and it does. It has great power -- but you have to mean it.
It isn't enough to crinkle your face into a uptilted moon. Your eyes have to mean it. You have to want to earnestly pass on a little bit of joy to someone else, even if it's just for a moment.
What I believe is that most people desperately want to be seen. In a world where it is ever so easy to hide in our phones and our computers, where we rush from place to place, where we're absorbed in our own busy -- more than ever do I believe that most people want to be seen for who they are, want to be appreciated for who they are.
Sometimes a smile is just that... a smile, and then it's over. But being willing to smile at strangers and to really see people opens you up to the possibility of more. I believe people want to be seen because I've seen what happens when people feel seen. And all of a sudden, you find yourself in conversations with people you've smiled at because they grasp at being seen like a hungry child. Before you know it, a smile has turned into an exchange, and an exchange turns into a conversation, and they walk away from that one smile... seen.
And so I don't think of my smile as a second-rate compliment anymore. It's my gift. And so now I find myself looking for places to use it.
Because when you have a superpower, you have a responsibility to use it for the greater good. Isn't that what superheroes are for?