The Darkest Piece of my Puzzle This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

November 14, 2010
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"Hey, did you know your teeth are crooked?” No, really? I had no idea. This is just a snapshot of one of the thousands of conversations I have had with numerous people, all of whom seem to be under the impression I am completely oblivious of the fact my teeth are uneven. Ever since the second grade I have been mocked by my peers for having crooked teeth. I can't help it; I sucked my thumb as a child which, in turn, pushed my two front teeth forward. Sadly there is truth to the saying 'kids can be cruel'. I have, thankfully, learned to ignore the obnoxious comments thrown at me over the years, but it has not been easy.

I used to suck my thumb when I was little. It would calm me down when I was angry, and put me to sleep when I had too much energy; it was my source of comfort when I was sad and it gave me something to do when I got bored. Ironically, my source of comfort turned into a source of pain as I got older. I had been warned of the consequences of sucking your thumb, but honestly, who listens to advice like that? It’s not supposed to come true. When asked why my teeth are crooked, I tried to explain the thumb sucking story to whoever asks only to have them smile sadly at me and give me a hug, as though I were a cancer patient. This didn't annoy me at first because I never considered having uneven teeth a big deal until I got about the hundredth sad smile and hug.

Being very young at the time, the now annoying comments were a knife through the heart. In retrospect, the fact that most of the comments came from people I trusted was probably what made it so devastating. I had friends one day, and none the next. I would run home crying almost everyday, making completely sure nobody saw me, and take a nap. (Napping is still an activity reserved only for the most stressful moments.) My number one goal became covering my mouth as much as possible. I stopped participating in class and I didn't smile if I could help it. I made myself think of smiling as something unthinkable, almost taboo. All those who knew me before wondered why I had become so withdrawn. I never told anybody about my problem; although I was hurt I still valued my pride.

My excessive weariness continued for four years. My family had officially classified me as 'the quiet one', which was the exact opposite of what I was. I loved to smile and laugh and tell jokes; I hated not being able to show it. I had attended a kindergarten to grade eight school, so I kept the same classmates year after year. The not- so-smart alecy boys and the wannabe girls had always been my problem. They were so caught up in what they thought was cool that they didn't even notice that I was getting tired of their constant put-downs. All of their insults were the same, and coming from the same people. It was like a joke that had long passed its expiry date. I didn't want other people dictating how I felt about myself, but I didn't know what to do about it. I was no Clark Kent turned Superman, I was just a sad eleven year old girl.

One day, towards the end of seventh grade, I arrived late to school. I was greeted by Brandon, one of the most annoying boys in our class. "Hey look everybody, it's Bucky!” I blushed and hurried to my seat with my eyes downcast. I was not going to cry (I still valued my pride). Brandon walked up to my desk and whispered "How many trees have you chewed down today, hmm?” My eyes started to water; I quickly excused myself and ran to the washroom. That night, I looked myself in the mirror and remembered all the times I had wished fate had dealt me a different set of cards. Today there would be no more wishing; I squared my shoulders and said loudly and clearly "I don't care anymore!” It may not have looked very impressive, but to me it was the beginning of the end.

Ever since that day I have enjoyed myself a lot more. I discovered that I have a sense of humour. I can entertain my friends without worrying about what they think of me. I have gone on every ride multiple theme parks have to offer, and I am a member of a variety of clubs. I even won an award at my grade eight graduation for setting the best example. It is now four years later, and I am a senior in high school. I will soon have my braces out, leaving no evidence any of this ever happened.

It is never easy, learning to be completely at ease with who you are. There are many obstacles you must overcome first. Whether it is those whom you thought friends or complete strangers, bullying is never easy to deal with. Although I may never forget the cruelty of my classmates, I can focus on loving myself no matter the circumstance.

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