I’ve always had trouble hiding my emotions. No matter how hard I try, they tend to sneak across my brow, bombard my eyes and tug at my lips. This is one of the reasons I do not play poker. My face is a rebel. But it has suddenly become really important that I get control of my expressions- and it’s because of my job.
I smile all the time. At everyone. Especially when I meet someone new. I smile so much, that my cheek muscles have hypertrophied to the point they could probably bench press a small child. My reasoning is, I am so terrified of contracting RBS (resting bitchface syndrome) that I over compensate. I also do this when I am nervous or shy. My hope is that my pleasant facial expression will convey that even though I am too petrified to talk to you, it’s not because I am a d*ck.
But it has come to my attention, that a bubbly smile is not always how people would like to be greeted. For example, if a person is standing next to their loved one who has just died they probably don’t want me as a paramedic to show up looking like this…
It’s just awkward. And will probably eventually lead to me getting punched in the teeth.
The alternative however is not much better. If I show up looking like how I actually FEEL….
That picture is supposed to be me looking scared sh*tless, a little sad, a little excited, while a heart rate of a buck twenty. If I was talented enough to add shaking knees, I would.
This leads into my next facial dilemma.
My issue is not so much full on bawling, I’ve finally mastered keeping that behind closed doors, but it’s the tearing up that gets me. And in my defense, it’s not because I am a giant cry baby, a wimp, or fraidy-cat. I just have this knack for genuinely feeling other people’s emotional pain. I’m a master of empathy almost to a fault. One trick I’ve learned to prevent from crossing the threshold of tearing up to actual crying, involves tipping my head back and thinking about my latest E-bay purchases. Gravity plus shopping seems to be the magical cure. Perhaps not really appropriate on scene. It is a bizarre situation when the person you are trying to comfort, ends up trying to comfort you. I’m not sure if this works as a distraction tactic, or is entirely unprofessional. I’m ok, really.
Tearing up also makes paperwork very challenging.
And for the record, I only made the mistake of wearing NON-waterproof mascara to work once.
I just can’t seem to master the balance of wearing genuine concern, friendliness, trustworthiness, and compassion on my face all at the same time. My options seem limited to giant toothy smile, cry-staring at you until you hug me, or stone face.
My teacher face is not one I’m ready to put in the problem category. It comes in very handy with randy old men and drunks. It conveys a nice combination of “Get your sh*t together-you are in MY ambulance now-and let me see your best behavior”.
You Did Something Stupid Face
Aka: I Think You Are Stupid Face
Along with over smiling, I also do a lot of over laughing. Often at the expense of others. Or again when I’m nervous. I can’t help it. I like laughing and when opportunity knocks…
The fact that I am also the first person to laugh at myself usually makes up for it. Unless of course you are the only one doing stupid sh*t during our time together. Then I’m just being a jerk.
I Don’t Know What The F*ck I’m Doing Face
This face is one I’d especially like to kick. It not only kills all confidence people may have in you, but sends you from hero to zero status faster than hitting a pedestrian with your ambulance. In my earlier blog I posted a particular quote about being like a duck…calm and collected on the surface, and paddling like hell underneath. This especially struck home with me for one reason and one reason alone. This face.
Anyways, that concludes my rant for today. I’d love to hear what kind of a face you would appreciate me having if you were the one standing next to a beloved who recently passed.