A familiar face.

Me and Emojis Go Way Back

If you grew up in the 90s like I did, you will likely remember a particular item of clothing that was everywhere.

Smiley faces on t-shirts.

This was like the first emoji. We didn’t have smartphones to press a button with a winking face to our friends indicating what mood we were in. You had to wear it on your shirt if you really wanted it.

That’s a day-long commitment.

I had so many smiley face t-shirts. A white shirt with a bright yellow smiley face. Another with a red white and blue bandana tied to the smiley face’s head. The obvious sunglass-wearing smiley face. It was quite a wardrobe.

I don’t know why I felt so compelled to wear these. I can only draw the same conclusion on why I use emojis when I speak to people online and that’s because I want to make sure my intent is clear.

It’s so easy for something to come off wrong in text form. Emojis are like our little problem-solvers.

In regards to the t-shirt though, it may also be because resting b*tch face goes way back to the beginning of your life. *insert laughing emoji face here*

There was a time though—as I think many have seen happen with emojis today—when the smiley face t-shirt could have backfired on me.

When I was in 7th grade, I threw one on before classes one day (yeah… I certainly didn’t help myself in middle school with style points) not even thinking about what day it was.

The day was significant though. Myself and three of my friends had teamed up for a presentation we needed to deliver in psychology class that day about the warning signs of identifying a suicidal young person.

Yeah. Smiley face t-shirt didn’t really fit the agenda.

My friends were pretty pissed at me. I mean, I get it. I literally looked as unprepared to give a speech on suicide as anyone ever could have been in history.

The biggest thing that bothers me is letting people down. I certainly don’t like to look stupid, but I can laugh that off. The fact that my friends have to stand there next to me to deliver this presentation while I have an enormous smiley-face plastered on my chest makes me look like I don’t care about how we do.

But ya know. I figured it out. I always do.

Margaret* started the presentation with some compelling research. Colleen* talked about her experience with cutting in her own life. Alison* also had experience to share. And then it was my turn.

I talked about the signs to watch for. And the signs that were less obvious. People who are struggling don’t always act out or dress a certain way.

“They could even been wearing a t-shirt like this,” I said, pointing to myself. “Don’t judge what you don’t know, but don’t assume either.”

Did I just point to myself as a potential example of someone who is suicidal? Maybe. But it didn’t matter. I was confident in how I felt about myself as a human that wanted to live on the earth, and I just made it even more worthwhile by making my friends think the t-shirt was the plan the whole time. *Insert smiling brow-sweat emoji here*

So yeah, emojis have been saving my butt for a lot of years. I don’t know where I would be without them today.

*Insert smiley face with sunglasses emoji here*