A year ago (okay 10 months and a handful of days ago...). I posted a blog post about the photo I would have never posted a year previous. It was called A year ago I wouldn't have posted this photo, and it was about my struggle overcoming my growing insecurity with my teeth. I thought by posting it, something would have changed and everything would just be better. Like I owned up to this. Now go away.
Spoiler Alert: It didn't.
I felt like I was convincing the world I had a quick fix when I didn't. I felt better than I ever had in my life. But, my lows were still low. They just happened less. But they happened. I wasn't fixed, I was just better.
For the months following this post, despite the overwhelming positive praise, I was crippled with insecurity. Somehow I fell farther than I did previously. My analogy about leaping forward and growing wings, was more like I leapt forward and fell on my face.
But, that isn't the posts fault. And it isn't the fault of the people who post and still post on that blog post, filling my feed with positive words.
I hated my smile since I was 5 years old. Back when I had a stain on my front tooth. I still hated my smile when I was 11 and my dentist bonded the stain, which masked it's ugly brown tint. Unless you look, you don't see it.
I still hated my teeth when I was 17 and I heard "wow you have a pretty smile", for the first time in my life.
I never hated my teeth more in my life, than when I whitened them religiously. I hated my teeth when I had to get every filling and restoration in my mouth redone, because I damaged the previous ones with whitening. (Someone told me if I had white teeth, no one would notice how crooked they are.)
I dreaded doing a presentation in class, because the girl sitting in the front row called me snaggletooth. To this day, I completely shutoff, anytime I have a class with this girl.
I hated my teeth when I cried to my dental staff about being called snaggletooth. Unfortunately, I still hated my teeth when they made me laugh and told me my mouth was too damn expensive to not be a work of art. Despite laughing, I still hated my teeth when my dentist laughed and said "what the hell does snaggletooth even mean. It's a damn canine."
I hated my teeth writing the blog post a year ago. I cried every night for a week after, because I was just waiting for one of my many bullies to tell me how horrible my teeth were.
I hated my teeth when I found old photos of me, ages 5-16, where I wasn't smiling. I hated my teeth when I looked into the mirror and ran my tongue over my pearly whites.
I hated my teeth and there wasn't a magic pill or cure I could take to unteach myself over a decade of hate. As much as I wish there was, nothing was ever going to change.
I hated my teeth, that was the only reality I knew.
But, I didn't hate my teeth when I was 18 and my checkup came back flawless. I had a perfectly healthy mouth, no signs of gingivitis, no broken fillings, no stains that anyone could see.
I didn't hate my teeth when I flossed. Or when I used my overly priced soniccare.
I didn't hate my teeth when I put on red lipstick, because my teeth were a perfect A1.
I didn't hate my teeth when I bit into a candy bar and my bite left a perfect arch. I didn't hate my teeth when my friends commented on how nice my smile looked.
I loved my teeth when my hygienist commented on how much better my most frequent checkup was. I don't hate my teeth when I learn dental inequality for the first time in my life when I was 17. The thought of it honestly makes me cry. It's unfair I'm one of the over insured and I took advantage of it. I purposely destroyed my smile out of self hate. I didn't deserve the luck to have the dental insurance I have, and the dental team I have. It's unfair how fortunate I am.
And I don't hate my smile when I laugh and my chin dips and my laugh lines multiply. I make the ugliest face when I laugh. But I don't hate it, I don't hate them. I can't.
I can't hate something that reminds me of strength.
My health became my strength.
The knowledge provided to me about healthy teeth from my trusted dental professionals was my strength.
Bold lipstick became my strength.
Watching myself smile in reflections, so I could see what other people saw and not what I was told I looked like, became my strength.
The patience of my dental team, to put up with every little misstep I had. Their understanding and never making me feel bad, despite me having an appointment at least once a month for 7 years straight. Became my strength.
The ability to write my post a year ago became my strength.
My smile is expensive, crooked, and mimics that of a vampire in a crappy 60s horror. It robbed me of my confidence and not a day goes by where I don't think about it. Not a day goes by where I don't mentally prepare myself to be made fun of for them. Not a day goes by where I don't regret everything I ever said to myself about them and what I did to them.
Because I hate my smile. And I don't. Because it's strength and it's weakness. Because it makes me unique and it makes me different. Because my dental office has never in all my time as a patient ever saw anything wrong with the appearance of my smile. But despite their best efforts trying to convince me, I have. Because it's a life long insecurity and it's going to take longer than 2 years to fix. It's going to take more than a blog post and thinking about it every damn day. Because a year ago I posted a photo I wouldn't have a year previous. But a year previous I smiled, when for the past 10 years I never did.
Your lifelong insecurities will always remain one and the other. They're going to always contradict. Because it made you and it broke you all in the same day, sometimes the same minute. There's no quick fix. There's no amount of blog posts, photos and self help books you can read to fix it.
It's always going to be every side of the coin. But we're all getting there. We get better a day, week, month and year at a time.