Face Speaking

Yeah... the feeling is mutual.

Yeah… the feeling is mutual.

Thanks to a series of email lists that I signed up for shortly after moving to California I regularly get invitations to seminars of all kinds. To someone like me this is the equivalent of having a Girl Scout selling  delicious cookies appearing on my doorstep every day as I step out the door to go for a run: tempting, distracting, and expensive.

I never really realized how much I like learning stuff until I graduated from college. Don’t get me wrong: the grown up world has a lot to recommend it: independence, variety, power- but opportunities for comprehensive intellectual growth? Not so much. I mean, there are night schools and workshops and the library and the internet which is great if you want to learn handwriting analysis (I understand this is a great class in which to meet women) or scrap booking but not so great if you want to learn more about particle physics or the philosophy of the Stoics.

Seminars fall into an interesting middle ground. Seminars are like core samples from the bedrock of All Human Knowledge. You get a brief and tempting whiff of all the amazing things you could be learning in a compact and streamlined package that is just the right size and shape to fit between work and working out.

The point that I’m taking a really long time to make is that I’m pretty well addicted to seminars. I love ’em. The Hidden Rules of Comedy. How To Be UNSTOPPABLE. What Hollywood Wants. Smart Dummies: Make Your Own Sample Picturebook. And, most recently, The Language Of The Face.

The Language of The Face appealed to me because it was free, which is to say that it was a free seminar to lure learnaholics such as myself in the door to sign up for the six week intensive course. Not that I minded at all. As the name implies Language Of The Face is all about the subtleties of facial expression needed for acting in front of the camera. Now, I’m not an actor. I know the basic tools of acting, but I don’t pretend to be an actor the same way that I know the broad strokes of writing but I don’t pretend to be a writer. But I do know that facial expression is a valuable tool in real life and that I could stand to learn more about it.

Facial expression seems like one of those things that anyone ought to be able to manage naturally. We are born with certain emotional responses hardwired into our brains for survival: anger, fear, surprise, disgust, contempt, happiness, and sadness. But just because we are given the tools doesn’t mean that we know how to use them.

Personally, I tend to internalize emotion. If I’m not paying attention my neutral state seems to read somewhere between anger and sadness prompting the Curmudgeonly Lion to regularly check up on me with “is everything OK?” I suspect this is partly due to being an Introvert and partly due to coming from a family of Introverts in which strained silence is a much much bigger indicator of strong emotion than words.

When I go out in public I tend to overcompensate by smiling. A lot. I use happiness like a hammer to avoid the anxiety of having to start cold conversations. But that’s about the extent of my toolkit. If I’m smiling I get mistaken for being Nice (read- a pushover). If I’m not smiling I get mistaken for being Aloof (read- intimidating). And apparently if I’m doing stage combat I naturally tend to smile and I get mistaken for a Sadist.

The bottom line is that I wouldn’t mind a little training to get to know the other  tools at my disposal. So now my dilemma is whether or not I should take the proverbial plunge into a six-week not-free intensive course.



~ by Gwydhar Gebien on July 17, 2013.

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