Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

4 Years Back

As I sit here on my friend's endearing red couch with the pain of my shifting teeth climbing up towards my ears, I can't help but think back to the end of my sixth grade year. I was eleven, going on twelve, and purely ecstatic. I was getting braces on my teeth. My personality as an eleven year-old girl can only be described in one word: insecurity. Thinking back, it's quite comical to me , but at the time it was pure misery. I struggled to reach out to others and tried desperately not to draw attention to myself. Just riding the bus each morning from my middle school math program to my elementary school was enough to make me sick. With nervousness. The sixth grade, for me, was an episode in my life when every time I walked in a door and saw people, it was all I could do not to turn and run in the opposite direction. I thought that everyone noticed the fact that my hands shook when I talked to my crush and that, by the end of the day, I had sweat under my arms. Simply put, I was desperate for any boost of confidence I could get my clammy hands on.

The morning of my orthodontist appointment, I told my friend Angelica I was getting braces as I beamed with excitement while waiting at the bus stop. All morning I ran my tongue across my crooked front teeth and imagined how they would feel with metal brackets fastened to them. Thinking back, I can't help but laugh at myself for thinking that braces were "cool". How things have changed.

As I sat in the chair at the orthodontist, I couldn't help but smile. Not only would my teeth be straight, but when I walked back in the doors of my school, people would notice my teeth! This was attention I could handle. My lovely orthodontist explained what he would do to my teeth and the process of braces. I listened with sincere interest and my mom looked on with a calm expression. The chair reclined, and ten minutes later, I had braces. I walked back into school after looking one last time at my reflection in the mirror. My toothy grin shone back with metal and turquoise brackets. I walked in to the classroom suppressing a shy smile and sat down to join the class. My best friend at the time asked to see my teeth and I eagerly smiled to show her the work I had just gotten done. The rest of the day, I smiled for my classmates as they asked to see my new "additions" and I couldn't be happier.

Today is a different story. Yesterday I went into the orthodontist to inquire whether I needed a new retainer. I have been wearing one for three and a half years, but I lost it for the second time this summer on my trip to the Dominican Republic. I wasn't very worried walking into the appointment considering the fact that my teeth had only slightly shifted, and I had worn my damned retainer faithfully for what seemed like forever. As I sat down in the orthodontist chair, I felt a cloud of doom settle over my head when the technician grimaced as I explained to her what happened to my retainer two months back. I sat in anticipation until the orthodontist waltzed over to me and promptly delivered the most crushing news: I needed braces again. I struggled to suppress the tears that instinctively sprang to my eyes as he explained that my teeth had shifted back, despite the years I had worn my retainer. I was both furious and confused as I tried to calmly ask how this had possibly happened. He spat back a medley of words I can't seem to remember, most likely due to the mountains of guilt settling on my shoulders. My mind raced as my father was called over and the news was delivered to his blank face. He accepted the news with grace, unlike myself, and calmly asked to see the price of my second set of braces.

As I laid back to get those god-forsaken metals pieces glued to my teeth once again, I repeated "I'm sorry" to my father at least three times. He smiled and assured me it was fine and that "what's done is done." Unfortunately, I have never been able to sustain such a mentality, and a tear streamed down my cheek as the orthodontist worked on my stubborn teeth. Luckily, my braces will only be on for a mere four months, and to my greatest relief, they will only cost a small sum of money. I feel guilty forcing my parents to pay for something that is my own fault and they have refused my desperate pleas to "just let me pay for it."

While this experience has been trying and miserable, I have taken one thing from it. Getting braces again has reminded me of the fact that I am only human. I will make mistakes and, sometimes, I will have to "pay" for them (though not with money). Also, walking in to school next week with braces on my teeth will serve as a healthy challenge for me to remember where my true priorities lie. Despite the fact that people will be surprised, and possibly even rude, I will tell myself that I am still Hailey, and nothing can alter that. Small pieces of metal and plastic are insufficient reasons to be sheepish and insecure because, after all, this isn't sixth grade.

Succumbing to the opinions and judgements of others is something that is undoubtedly worse than braces. Even if they are on for a second time.





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback