Put a brave face on

When you “put on a brave face,” you are experiencing some type of inner turmoil, but you do your best not to show it to the outside world.

Today's story: The Office
Explore more: Lesson #329
Keywords:

Be your best self in English

Move confidently through the English-speaking world

Listen

  • Learning speed
  • Full speed

Learn

TranscriptQuizYour turn
Simple TranscriptEspañol中文FrançaisPortuguês日本語ItalianoDeutschTürkçePolski

Put on a brave face

Today’s expression is to put on a brave face. I would definitely say this is not one of the most common expressions, but it does very clearly illustrate one specific emotion.

When you put on a brave face, you are experiencing some type of inner turmoil, but you do your best not to show it to the outside world. In “The Office,” Jan puts on a brave face after her divorce. You might remember her name was Jan Levinson-Gould. One day, Michael introduces her that way to a coworker. She politely corrects him, as discreetly as possible, and asks to be introduced just as Jan Levinson. Gould was no longer in the picture: she was getting a divorce.

This being The Office, Michael makes a mess of the situation and handles it indelicately. But Jan was putting on a brave face. She was going through a divorce—a very personal, painful process—but she still had to be the professional businesswoman at work. She probably didn’t want to go into work those days. She probably had a lot on her mind. She probably wanted to be anywhere but at work. But she had to put on a brave face and continue doing her job, even if she was feeling terrible inside.

Losing a job is another example of something that can cause inner turmoil. It can cause all kinds of negative emotions. Sadness, depression, fear, anxiety, but also a loss of identity; it’s a blow to your ego; it’s embarrassing, even if it wasn’t your fault. If you lose a job, you’ll probably feel some combination of those negative emotions.

To get a new job, you’ll need to go to a job fair or start attending industry events, networking events, reach out to your contacts, whatever. At the very least, you’ll need to get interviews. Those first few are not easy. You’re still feeling all those negative emotions. You don’t want to try to get new interviews: it only reminds you of the bad situation you’re in. But guess what? You need to put on a brave face and just do it. The face you show the world will be optimistic, energized for the future, ready to forget the past, eager to learn new things, ready to dive right in. You won’t probably truly feel all those things, at least not right away. But you need to put on a brave face anyway and go out and do what you have to do.

One last example. Parents often put on a brave face with their kids. They don’t want their kids to worry. When a mom or dad has to get surgery or undergo chemotherapy, the parent often tries to put on a brave face when talking to the kids. The parent says, everything’s going to be fine. The parent tries to be steady and calm for the sake of the kids, even if that parent is thinking very different things.

JR’s song of the week

Today’s song of the week is “Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure. This song does not include “put on a brave face”, but it talks about the same concept. In fact, the first two lines of the song are “Don’t say what you mean. You might spoil your face.” And that essentially means the same thing: don’t reveal your true emotions because you might ruin the appearance you’re giving to others.

This appears in Season 4 of The Crown. The character Episode 5 is down on his luck, frustrated with life, and is listening to this song as he lights a cigarette. The Queen later calls smoking a “filthy habit.”

“Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure is JR’s Song of the Week.

See you next time!

And that’s all today. I hope you didn’t mind two entertainment-related lessons in a row. I suppose Monday’s was more about business than entertainment. We’ll have to see what I come up with next week—I have no idea what the lessons will be about. But that’s half the fun, at least for me.

Oh, yes I do, I know, I forgot. A famous web site is turning 20 years old. Can you believe there are web sites that are twenty years old? Well this one is. It was seen as a joke when it first started, but it later disrupted its industry and changed the experience of the Internet, probably forever. It’s not Facebook. I’ll let you ponder that, and you’ll have to join us right back here on Monday to find out which one it is.

Learn more with Plus+

Fast audio & built-in translations help you learn expressions faster

Free trial

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Free trial

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Free trial

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Free trial

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Free trial

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Free trial

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Free trial

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Free trial

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Free trial

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Free trial

Test your knowledge

Take a 4-question quiz to make sure you understand today’s Expression

Improve your English writing

Write a sentence using this expression and get personal, human feedback to help you improve

test content

[/mepr-rules]
Story: The Office