This is a blog about self love. Getting to know yourself and, more importantly, like yourself. Maybe it sounds cliche. I certainly know the last sentence I wrote is. But if we get beyond all the self love and body positivity jargon we are bombarded with every day and get down to real stories and real moments on the journey to self love I think we are left with something both unique and inspiring…
This post is me sharing my story…. 🙂
It begins with a discussion of my maternal grandmother’s right canine tooth. Her baby tooth fell out and then the adult tooth grew in… No big deal right? Then her adult tooth fell out and… Wait for it… Another tooth grew in! My mom’s right canine tooth on the other hand was a different story (I know what your’e thinking, and yes there is a point to this pointless story). Her baby tooth fell out and no adult tooth ever grew in. So now she has a bridge in place of her tooth. My right canine tooth remained a baby tooth, never got loose, or showed any signs of being replaced by it’s adult version. The dentist did x rays and said that my adult tooth was so far up in my pallet that the chances of it ever coming in were slim. So we’ll just leave the baby tooth. Cool…. So everything remained cool until about a year and a half ago when suddenly my adult tooth began to grow in behind my baby canine tooth. The dentist said to see an orthodontist about it. So I called the office, and made an appointment for two weeks in the future. In the mean time I named my adult tooth Bruce, since he was growing in like a second row of teeth that a shark would have. Shark tooth, Bruce.
Fast forward two weeks and I’m tearing up in the orthodontist chair. Under the fluorescent lights with that stupid contraption in my mouth that spreads my cheeks so wide that dry mouth doesn’t even begin to describe the sensation….
I was going to have to have braces.
I had managed to avoid the train tracks for all of middle school and high school and here I was 19 years old being told that the only way to remedy this Bruce situation was to have the baby tooth extracted (which meant I’d be toothless for one to two weeks, so more great news) and use braces to pull the adult tooth forward into its proper position. Damn you Bruce.
I came to the only natural conclusion at this point. Delay the treatment for as long as I possibly can. I put off getting the baby tooth extracted and the braces put on for about another year and a half. So here I sit, twenty years old with braces. Not a big deal to most people. In fact, adult braces are becoming more and more common. But to me it was a big deal. And it took me a long time to realize why.
The answer wasn’t comfortable or easy to arrive at but here’s the truth: I was massively insecure and even narcissistic.
It’s kind of human nature to think that the world and other humans are more concerned with what we’re doing than they actually are. My mom once told me when I first started driving and was nervous to go to the gas station by myself, “you know not everyone is watching you pump gas right?” And that simple statement has forever made going to the gas station, and other mundane activities, much easier. For the most part people are not concerned with what you’re doing or why. This blog is a great example of that fact. Some posts get a good response while others only get likes from my dad and the ladies I work with at Dressbarn. Both examples of my biggest cheerleaders. Other people just don’t care as much as we think they do.
(PSA: if you do read my blog regularly I am incredibly grateful and you’re the reason I do it! Chances are the internet won’t be getting rid of me anytime soon… MUAHAHAHAHA)
Anyway… the phenomenon that people don’t really care about what you do was true with my braces. I don’t know what I expected. Probably that everyone I had ever know pre- Bruce incident would ask me why or make a comment about how I looked like I was twelve (a fact that I don’t deny) but in reality no one has said a thing…. All that worrying for nothing (this is the part of the story where I would insert an “I told you so” from my mom, if she was the kind of person who said “I told you so”).
But this brings us to a more important issue. Even if no one cares why do I care what they think? Because I was insecure. I thought that having braces would make me less attractive, even as a friend. And that somehow this would make me less worthy of love or friendship or of allowing myself to be myself….
I have a fantastic professor by the name of Fred Stultz who teaches at CSUP. I’ve taken his Human Development course and I am currently enrolled in his Marriage and Family course. He’s been teaching intimacy and marriage and family psychology since the 70s. He always tells us, “You know, you’re all gorgeous people. And I’m not just saying that. You may think ‘okay Fred you’re pulling my leg’ but really I’m not. You’re beautiful people.” Something that always makes me smile. And the other day he took this little bit of wisdom a step further. After telling us we were all good looking people he said “Everyone is beautiful. The sooner you believe that the better.” So true Fred, so true. Everyone is beautiful. I’ve found, in my journey of self love, that this can be fairly easy to believe about the outside world and other people but sometimes we also need to find a way to believe that about ourselves. WE ARE ALL GORGEOUS PEOPLE! And I’m not just pulling your leg. 😉
In addition to Fred’s comments I’ve had my eyes and heart opened in about a million ways through my yoga teacher training program. We’re not even halfway through yet and I’ve had to admit to myself and the beautiful, wonderful, amazing women I am sharing that journey with that sometimes I don’t know how to love myself. I’m insecure and I worry about what others think. For our workshop on the Solar Plexus Chakra (more on teacher training adventures later) we were given a brown paper bag filled with sand and a candle and told that the candle was to be used to burn away all negative thoughts and feelings. About a week into having this tool I finally got the courage to write “I’m not beautiful with braces” on a tiny piece of paper and let the candle burn it away. Seeing the constant negative thought that runs through my head daily go up in smoke was an incredibly cathartic experience. And it was part of my healing and learning to love myself journey- which they never told me would be a part of my 200 hour certification. 😉
The bottom line is, my braces are temporary like a lot of things in life. And I’m well aware of what a drama queen I’ve been about this whole situation- in reading this post you’ve probably been thinking something along these lines: “there are starving kids in Africa, woman! And you’re worried about having to have one of the most expensive cosmetic oral treatments known to man? Poor you! Not like a million people have’t gone through it before. Some people would kill to afford braces.” *rolls eyes and makes a mental note to never read Well-Done Yoga blog again* Trust me, my inner dialogue has been saying the same thing to me for months. But sometimes we just have to allow ourselves to have emotions without judging ourselves for having them. It’s okay to be sad, mad, happy, etc about something silly. Part of my journey of self-love has been allowing my braces to be that something silly for me.
With that being said, I could have just as easily been writing this article about the susceptibility of breast cancer in my family but instead I’ve been fortunate enough to write it about the susceptibility of canine teeth perplexities. I’m incredibly lucky that braces are my biggest worry. And really it was never about the braces. They exposed a much deeper issue. One of my own self esteem and my perpetual tendency to think that others are more concerned with my behavior than they actually are. I’m proud to say that learning to get past negative self talk and to teach yourself how worthy you are of all of the happiness in life is an amazing journey… and one that I’m still working on every day. I’ve learnt to emBRACE myself, imperfections and all (you bet your britches that pun is intended).
I also think it’s nice to be reminded that no matter what kinds of changes or insecurities you’re going through everyone who has ever mattered will still be there. Because they never loved you for your smile or your clear skin or your perfect hair or the amount of likes you get on an Instagram post. True friends will still love you when you get braces, or a pimple, or your hair gets frizzy, or no one”likes” your post. So as Fred would say, “So, whats the point of all this??”
…if those you value most in the world still love you then you owe it to yourself to love yourself.
I guess I’m trying to say in 1,000 word blog post what the Buddha summed up very simply in a few words. “If you’re compassion does not include yourself it is incomplete.”
A- FRICKIN’- MEN TO THAT.