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I am Not perky

I am not Perky.

I am not a perky person. I do not wake in the morning and break into song while all the woodland creatures gather around me to welcome in a new day.

I have nothing against perky people, per se. I kind of watch for them from a distance. I can hear their squeals of joy from a block away. They often flit from person to person extending hugs and salutations. They bounce and clap their hands when they talk and are happily animated. My personal definition of this high functioning cheer is “plugged-in.” You know, like the difference between a fan that’s in the on position but not plugged in and one that’s on and plugged in.

I am quiet mostly – an introvert. I am reserved and thoughtful. I have my plugged-in moments, too, but not every day. I have a great sense of humor – no, really! I have a great sense of humor and I love to laugh (and mostly at myself because I crack me up). I take time to observe what’s going on – to take note of the dynamics of a situation sometimes seeing its potential before it happens. And, fuller disclosure, yes, I can be opinionated and “judgy”.

A smiling perky person greeted me one morning and told me that I needed to smile. And then they smiled a bigger smile at me as if to show me how it’s done. I looked at them with a cautious stare.

They continued, “You should smile more.”

“Hmmm. Should I?” They maybe have a max of 30 minutes of encounter with me per week.

“Yeah, you should smile more, don’t you think?”

“Actually, I was wondering what it is about you, that you need for me to smile.” They looked stunned.

“Oh, I never thought about it like that before. I guess because I like the people around me to be happy.”

“So my smiling is more about you than it is about me.” I wonder why they weren’t smiling when I left.

I am hoping in some small way that they contemplated their assumptions about their own rules of normativity. They were willing to assert their expectations onto me without real consideration that I might actually be an intact whole person. And smiling doesn’t necessarily equal happy anyway.

I recognize that I am mysterious to some and challenging to others. The word irritating comes to mind but maybe that’s a mask for “makes me uncomfortable.” But I feel I am deeply aware much of the time (and intentionally so). I can say things that are thought-provoking not to be mean but as a counter move. People are intrusive all the time without thinking about it. We usually respond in polite ways by not questioning it – by nodding, presenting fake smiles and walking away shaking our heads and mumbling to ourselves. So our complicity affords them the affirmation they need to continue being oblivious to those beyond their personal boundaries. Some days I push back.

By the way – I have a wonderful smile.

So during the 10,050 other minutes in the week, I am funny, dependable, caring, persistent and wise (that’s what they say although my inner self doesn’t sit well with that). I’m a team-player, a problem-solver, and advocate. I am responsible and loving, a good-listener and an encourager, among other attributes.

But… I am NOT perky.

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