On the very worst day of my entire life, I had the most enormous smile on my face.
It was one of those goofy looking smiles that gave backstage access to my molars and their silver fillings glistening with salvia.
I didn’t have much of a choice because the very worst day of my entire life happened to happen on the biggest day of my entire life.
It was the day I had to film a pilot for ABC Family (now called Freeform) of a reality show about my life, called Bridesmaid for Hire. The production company had busted their resources for months to find an engaged couple who would be willing to have me, a hired bridesmaid, at their wedding, as well as a 3-person camera crew, a 2-person sound crew, and a lighting team. Filming me at the wedding, capturing the on-the-spot drama, the juicy conversations, and the absurdity of my full-time job as a professional bridesmaid, was the final footage the team needed for the pilot episode, that would later be shown to a handful of audience focus groups and sit on network executives desks for months, before it was later rejected on the premise that the star of the show, ME, didn’t have a big enough following on social media, and therefore was not worthy of a television show.
But, at the time, being there, at that wedding, meant I had a job to do, and being on-camera, meant that I had to do it with extra personality, over-the-top gestures, and carefully premeditated facial expressions. I smiled when I was told to smile, danced when they told me to dance, and said exactly what they told me to say. I was a 5”7, blonde-haired robot, in heels and a bridesmaid dress, following commands from producers, that I somehow executed from muscle memory because inside, I was completely shattered.
You will never be able to understand how you’re going to feel on the worst day of your life until that day happens. When it does, you don’t feel much because in a way, you are trying to feel every single thing all at once and it’s overwhelming. I hope you don’t know what I mean by this, but if you do, I just want to say, that it’s the most confusing and terrifying feeling in the world, and it sucks. It really just sucks.
My entire world was zapped and there I was, standing in front of a camera, charming the producer, and the sound crew, and the bride and the groom and the guests with my most precious song and dance of “Look at me! I feel great! Life is good! La, La, La!”
If you look really close at the footage of that day, beneath pounds of makeup that I picked up at CVS to help cover the dark circles and swelling under my eyes, you will see just how much I resemble a character from the Walking Dead. I was empty inside and yet….and yet, the biggest smile was temporarily tattooed over my mouth just so I could pretend, I could fool, I could make you think that I was okay.
But I wasn’t.
You have seen me on some of my bad days since then. You’ve seen the pictures that I’ve posted on Instagram or hugged me hello at parties, and I smiled back at you and I told you that I was doing just fine and then you told someone else that Jen Glantz is doing so great and living so well, because you know what you think you know about a person, based on what they fool you to think, you know?
People pull off magic tricks every single day and so you never understand how anyone is suffering because while you’re looking left, they are hiding what they don’t want you to see on the right.
I know we are all hiding something and I guess I just want you to know, my friend, that it’s okay not to be okay, and it’s okay to smile when you really just want to crawl into bed and fill your pillowcase up with tears, and it’s okay to feel like your heart is going to burst on the worst day of your life, because I promise you that it won’t, and if you want to hide, because you will want to hide, know that you’re not the only one, and so, if you can tell people, one person, two people, what’s really going on, you’ll feel this weird super power set into your veins that makes you feel suddenly reassured that the very worst will soften out, will change, will be a million things, and so will you.
So will you.