An apathetic face leads to a new found confidence, living with RBF


In seventh grade, I was sitting in my American history class, counting down the minutes until my teacher would stop talking about his bike ride through western Nebraska, when he called my name. I begrudgingly looked up and held eye contact, trying my hardest to avoid looking at his grey chest hair peeking out of the neon orange Adidas polo he sported every Friday, and he said, “You know what, Quinn, you have that same apathetic look as your brother.” 

At the time, I didn’t think anything of it, but throughout my life I’ve noticed a pattern. My teachers ask if I’m paying attention even when I have pages full of notes, my boss tells me to look friendlier when checking out customers, my mom asks me “What’s wrong?” when I get home from school. But the thing is, I can’t change this. It’s the face I was born with. 

Today, this is commonly known as RBF, (to be school-appropriate, let’s say resting brat face)  for women. And honestly, I’d like to thank my RBF for the character development I now have. Having an apathetic face has led me to not only find a previously undiscovered self-confidence, sense of empowerment, and meet the friends that I now spend all my weekends with, but it has enabled me to grow a tougher skin and not take everything to heart. 

Over time, I’ve learned to pride myself on the fact that it’s hard for me to physically put on a fake act. I believe that when I do expressively show emotion, it is completely genuine. My face has helped me at work: my manager called me over, about to ask me to clean the hot irons–which usually resulted in at least one second–degree burn on my arm-but when I walked over he cut himself off mid-question and said, “You look like you’re having a bad day. Don’t worry about it.” I was actually having an above average day, but it became even better after dodging that bullet.  The empowering sense of having a certain effect on others taught me to own the look. 

Cartoon by Quinn Findley

Typically, when a man has an apathetic resting face, at first glance he seems concentrated– a man who knows what he’s doing –but when a woman has a face like that, she is seen as rude or vain. For example, when I first started work at Coneflower Creamery, I was not well-liked by my boss even though I did my work efficiently; I soon found out that he thought I seemed unfriendly, even though in reality I was just nervous and did not want to talk his ear off on the first shift. But over time as I began to have deeper conversations with him during the slow winter hours, we began to grow close, and I was eventually promoted to a management position because he trusted me like “one of the guys,” and even gave me a nickname, conveying that he then saw me as not simply a high school employee, but a friend.

In my freshman year at an all-girls high school, I felt the need to constantly be aware of the facial expression I was displaying because I feared that people would be afraid to talk to me otherwise; however, within a few weeks, I soon left that fear behind and let myself develop into who I’m supposed to be. 

I now know that if I really want to achieve something, I have the power to do it and I don’t need to be afraid of what others will think. It has also taught me to not fear asking for help.

From my unapproachable face, I have found a deep self-confidence. 

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