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The Smile Project is a Movement

This morning, I asked my roommate if he wanted to work out together. He said yes and we agreed to go this afternoon.

This afternoon, I was sitting in our living room working on The Smile Project when he returned from the lifting at the gym.

“You still want to go running?”

He looked exhausted and I quickly filled in the blanks, “Yes, but you don’t want to anymore, huh?”

He apologized.

It’s okay. I assured him. I kind of need to clear my head anyway. I can’t really look at The Smile Project anymore.

He stopped and inquired, as any good roommate would. And as I started to answer I was shocked at how quickly my eyes began to well:

I don’t know, really. Things are going really well. And I have all these new ideas and projects I’m working on. So much of it is going so well and these changes I’m working on are going to do amazing things for the organization but…but I don’t know it’s just so much at times and I don’t know if I can keep up. I’m really afraid that one day, people are going to realize that I’m just a 22 year old who is sleeping on an air mattress behind a makeshift curtain in the living room and…

And my lack of confidence spun out of control from there.

I just need to walk away for a second.


I was talking with a friend of mine earlier today – an incredibly patient human being who is helping me implement some major changes within The Smile Project. I was fully aware of my hesitancy, indecision, and general difficultness.

Finally, we came to this breaking point:

Me: This is all just really confusing and overwhelming to me. All I know is creative stuff and writing. Throw in official legal stuff and business stuff and websites and finance and all that and I fall apart. It's also scary to imagine doing this. Like really doing this. But I need to. It's just. Kinda crazy I guess.

Friend: That's how a lot of entrepreneurs feel starting out. It's okay! The ones who make it are the ones who don't let those obstacles get in their way.

Me: I know. It just seems crazy to me. Like all I was doing was Facebook statuses. Then I think the issue is people started taking it seriously – especially people who didn’t know how it started and I've always been afraid to take it too seriously… I don't know why though..

Friend: You worry about everything, that's why! Just breathe.

Me: hahaha I don't worry! … Do I? Oh boy.

Friend: Take it 1 step at a time; you're capable of this.


I was talking to another roommate last night. I told him I didn’t understand how things are spiraling so quickly and becoming very serious and very real and very – well – legitimate. I told him I didn’t feel very legitimate. I told him I was just a kid and things were happening too quickly and really all I know how to do is write stories and and and…

And he cut me off and casually tossed another bite of carrot cake into his mouth.

Well, I know I don’t know too much about it yet, but everything you are doing is pretty real and valid and legitimate.


And here I am now. It is Saturday evening and I’m staring at my planner. Almost every incomplete task deals with The Smile Project.

On the verge of break, I stood in the shower feeling the heat scorch my back and I pulled every other thought away. Where do you even begin, Liz? Well…

You write.


I have been hesitating on a number of big Smile Project changes and transitions because I am afraid.

I never thought I was afraid of failure, but in the past two weeks, I’ve been struggling with the thought. You can’t even promote The Smile Project because someone will think you’re just a stupid kid with a stupid idea. It’s fine where it’s at now. You shouldn’t strive for anything more. And anyway, you don’t even know what you’re doing.

This November will mark 5 years since the first Happiness is status. That’s five years of daily joy and five years of inspiration.

When I posted my first Happiness is, I had no idea what I was doing or where it would lead.

When I launched The Smile Project website in June 2012, I knew nothing about designing a website.

When I ordered my first batch of “Live is Love” t-shirts, I had no guarantee that they would sell.

When I hosted the first “Joy Week” to commemorate the first Happiness is, I didn’t know that people would participate.

When I began frequently posting blogs, I didn’t know if anyone would read them or if I even had anything worth saying.

When I gave my first public presentation about the movement, I had no idea how people would react to my words.

When I first developed the idea of SPARK clubs for schools, I didn’t know anything about the extracurricular approval process for school districts.

You see, in almost every major Smile Project milestone – I have had no idea what I’m doing. But that’s how I learned. I may not have always known what was at the other end of the path, but I started walking. And I made friends along the way who pointed me in the right direction or who helped me when I was lost. And in those times when all I wanted to do was quit – I had people behind me then too.

I’ve been explaining to some close friends recently how The Smile Project is going through some major transitions. What I’ve neglected to explain, though, is that in transitioning the organization, I am uprooting a major part of myself.

For almost 5 years now, The Smile Project has been a carefree side gig. It’s been mostly my circles and it’s always been very small scale – something I could control.

Now…I want to do more.

And that’s scary. Because it’s opening myself into the most vulnerable state. It’s opening myself to failure.

Some of the most loyal Smile Project fans are the ones who read the first ever Happiness is on November 9th 2011 and while they have seen it grow over the course of the last five years, I wonder if sometimes they simply see it as a Facebook status..

And it’s okay if they do. Because sometimes that’s all I see it as too. Because that’s safe. It’s what’s comfortable. It’s what I know. It’s something I can’t screw up. It’s manageable.

But I don’t want safe anymore. I don’t want comfort. I don’t want to keep to the status quo of Facebook statuses. I want to push this as far as I can take it and flourish out of my comfort zone. The Smile Project deserves that. I deserve that.

So this is me…standing in front of you in the only way I know how…expressing my fears and telling you my dreams.

I, with the help of some incredible people, am working on completely renovating The Smile Project. Because The Smile Project is more than just a daily Happiness is. The Smile Project is a movement.

To everyone who is reading this now,

Tell your circles about The Smile Project. Share a favorite blog with a coworker. Take a moment to read some Happiness is statuses to a loved one. Follow the organization on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. I need you guys now more than ever.

I am going to do everything in my power to take this as far as I can.

I could use some cheerleaders.

Love always,


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