I'm all for positive thinking, but my brave face is starting to slip | Coco Khan

Seven months into lockdown, it’s impossible to trick the mind into thinking things aren’t rubbish when they patently are

One of my first jobs was flogging double-glazing appointments on the phone. The manager would walk around, pointing at his deranged forced grin as a reminder to smile when speaking. “Happiness is contagious,” he’d say. “If you smile, they smile, and if they smile, they spend.” So even though my hands trembled as I lifted the receiver, I forced a smile, and kept it even when my cheeks hurt.

Perhaps that was the moment I became a believer in the “brave face”. My own brave face is modelled on the duck, both in terms of my Instagram pout (because nothing says “I am coping with life!” like going in for a snog with a screen), and in terms of channelling effortlessness: I try to look as if I’m gliding, even if I’m frantically treading water to keep afloat.

I do this for the protection of others (like wearing a mask in a pandemic, a brave face could help stop the spread of worry), and for its suggestive powers; if I act fine, I’ll spread fine, and soon enough, I’ll feel fine. But seven months since lockdown began, I can now confirm that notion is tosh.

It is impossible to trick the mind into thinking things aren’t rubbish when they patently are; and even though it is important to recognise one’s fortunes where they come (in my case, having work and being able to do it from home), that won’t mean you start to enjoy it, nor that it won’t send you slowly round the bend, or stop you from repeating “I’m a duck,” for motivation on a supermarket trip.

So I am hanging up my brave face. I figure there are better things to put my energy into, like admitting to myself I desperately miss everyone and everything as it was. Because the truth is, when it comes to this pandemic, the only duck I am is one out of water.

Contributor

Coco Khan

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
When my mum video calls, is it wrong to switch it to audio? | Coco Khan
Too many connection drop-outs, too many missed cues: at least phone calls are intimate

Coco Khan

08, May, 2020 @1:00 PM

Article image
The truth about our so-called downtime: everything is harder | Coco Khan
It’s my sixth week working from home and I am yet to take up baking or read Tolstoy. This is why I don’t feel guilty

Coco Khan

24, Apr, 2020 @1:00 PM

Article image
I used to scorn spy movies. Now I think I could work for MI6
What happened to the old me? I’m devouring films about men who learn to love through their fists

Coco Khan

05, Jun, 2020 @1:00 PM

Article image
Does everything have to be deep and meaningful? | Coco Khan
Lockdown may imbue simple things with a sense of profundity, but silliness has its place, too

Coco Khan

15, May, 2020 @1:00 PM

Article image
Like many people, I have noticed an uptick in vivid dreams | Coco Khan
A dream about running is my first recurring one for many years. Will I still have it when lockdown ends?

Coco Khan

29, May, 2020 @1:00 PM

Article image
If I am bored, am I boring? | Coco Khan
My parents and teachers attached a moral judgement to boredom. These past months have helped me shake it off

Coco Khan

22, May, 2020 @1:00 PM

Article image
My boyfriend is a good sport – maybe he can teach me how to take a joke? | Coco Khan
He doesn’t mind my family having a laugh at his expense, and I like that

Coco Khan

26, Jun, 2020 @1:00 PM

Article image
Stuck at home, I've found it's never too late to learn about wildlife
I grew up in the gritty city with no experience of the natural world other than urban foxes and pigeons. At last, I can find joy in nature – in my own back garden

Coco Khan

17, Apr, 2020 @1:00 PM

Article image
I'm on the phone to Nando's, begging them to deliver | Coco Khan
Needs are a funny thing – and right now, my need for poultry trumps my need to never speak to anyone on the phone

Coco Khan

15, Feb, 2019 @2:00 PM

Article image
What’s the best hangover cure for the morning after an election? | Coco Khan
Whether you’re recovering from a festive night out or a stressful vote, what’s needed is a reliable pick-me-up

Coco Khan

06, Dec, 2019 @2:00 PM