I haven’t smiled with all of my teeth showing for about 8 years.
I will curl my mouth slightly to display happiness, and I may train my eyes to do a little glitter and dance, but I don’t smile. I’m the oddity of so many group photos because I’m the one person displaying more of a smirk, rather than a smile. I was one of the less fortunate kids who weren’t born with naturally aligned teeth. I have a gap that has been the first thing I see when I open my mouth for years. And I didn’t realize how much it affected me until now.
This, as well as so many other bodily imperfections that I won’t waste space trying to list here, is one of my flaws. It’s something that other people constantly reassure me is not as bad as I make it seem, yet has always been something that I felt was highlighted no matter what I did. And I could not seem to get people to understand that what it looked like to them would never equate to what it felt like for me.
But recently, I’ve come to the realization that loving myself is not enough; I have to be able to love yourself unconditionally. I need to love myself enough to know that though my smile is crocked, it deserves to be seen. On the days when my twist-out is terrible, I should throw it in a bun and feel beautiful any way. Yes, I’m impatient and move too fast into decisions, but to be aware of this and still decide that I am worthy of nothing less than the best makes all the difference.
I think of it this way: how am I to love someone else unconditionally, when I’m not trying to do the same for myself? Flaws can grow us mentally and emotionally because they force us to gain the strength to love them. If you can love the things about yourself that aren’t as pleasing, they won’t be a hindrance to you anymore. And while I am still on the journey of completely doing this for myself, I can’t wait to see what it looks like to reach the end.
In the midst of all of my flaws, I am still someone worthy of the best love that this world has to offer. And there is no one more capable of giving that love to me than myself. I’m challenging myself to love me in the best way possible, no matter how much my flaws try to turn me to do otherwise. And I challenge you to do the same.