The new universal language: Smiling


art by Maddy Mueller

Alice Yu

A native of Sevier County, Tennessee, Dolly Parton was born on a farm on January 19, 1946. Parton followed her dream of making music by leaving for Nashville the day after her high school graduation. On her first afternoon in Nashville, Parton met her future husband, Carl Dean, marrying him in May 1966, two years after their first meeting. Parton has a total of seven Grammy Awards, five Academy of Country Music Awards and three American Music Awards. In 2004, the U.S. Library of Congress presented her with the Living Legend Award as an acknowledgement towards her “contribution to the cultural heritage of the United States” according to her official website,
Once again, I find myself stressing the importance of a simple smile. It’s never pleasant to feel unwanted in this world. As the only place you’ll be occupying — unless space travel becomes a reality — planet Earth serves as a safe haven for humans, but social attitudes and statuses can turn every day into a competition.
Our society encourages us to desire the newest gadgets, aim for the best and work towards first place. Superficial, materialistic goals become the focus of our minds and we become slaves to life. What are we working for? What are we competing for? Why are we building a mindset that dismisses the beautiful and designates our privileges as expectations? Before we can bring others happiness, we must bring happiness to ourselves.
Every day, find something that you’re grateful for
There are countless things that we as Americans have that many others in the world don’t. While public schools are a great evil to many students (even I occasionally curse this institution we call education), it is nonetheless a privilege. Living in Columbia, we don’t have to worry about droughts like those in San Diego. We don’t have to pay heed to the rising sea levels like residents in California, Oregon, and Washington. We have access to running water, electricity at a flip of a switch, a considerably open job market and a community that continues to grow. Even though some things in life may not seem to be going as planned, we at least have these luxuries available in our lives. We just have to realize that our lucky stars are right next to us.
Express your feelings
It seems like a act of vulnerability to expose your inner thoughts, but honestly, it makes everything a whole lot easier. We don’t even have to dig deep to see the appalling effects of lack of communication. Look into your personal experiences because I’m sure there are times that keeping words back was not such a good idea. If you just voiced your feelings, there wouldn’t be that pointless goose chase attached to a load of drama. Look at Hollywood films. If Jane Nichols in 27 Dresses had just confessed to her boss, we wouldn’t have had to sit through her painful experience of watching her boss marry her sister, only to realize that Jane and her boss weren’t soulmates in the end. Emotions are nothing to be scared of. Used with constructive intent, they’re our body’s inner voice guiding us.
Understand that you don’t understand
There are just some things in this world that don’t make sense. It’s totally okay. Let the world have its secrets and realize that you can’t know everything. Let your friends keep their secrets. If they don’t want to tell you, there’s a reason and you have to trust them. Don’t make other people’s decisions for them because there’s always another side to a story that you might not know.
Let things come as they do
In simpler terms, life sucks. But you better suck it up, because this is all the time you’ve got on this planet with this life. Bad things are going to happen, no doubt about it, but so are good things. The choice is with you on what you want to focus on. Just remember, at the end of your life, no one’s going to care about that GPA or that lost job. More likely than not, your story will be told as snippets of a happy, humourous person, instead of a scrutinized biography with details down to the very second. Bad things happen and things change, so instead of trying to stop the flow, it might be a better idea to let go and enjoy the ride.
Alice Yu
art by Maddy Mueller