Thursday, May 5, 2011

Adult Braces: Plucking Her Petals

"By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower." - Rabindrath Tagore

When I began this journey as an adult braces wearer, I looked at it as an opportunity to fix my smile (no matter how late in life) and I've thus far been very optimistic about the braces.  That said, this week has been hard, to say the least.

As many of you may already know, I recently had oral surgery to remove my wisdom teeth, as well as my two primary canine teeth.  So now I'm missing two of my front teeth.  I missed all of work last week and one day this week due to the surgery.  When I came back to work (I teach 5th grade in a not-so-large elementary school), I had no idea that while I was gone apparently the school was abuzz with gossip-news of my missing teeth.

After maybe the third time I was accosted by a co-worker that I'd rarely, if ever, spoken to, as they stood offensively close to me, making small talk, while staring blatantly at my teeth, I realized that I was now the center of a sort of small town gossip.  My school is not large.  We employ about 45 teachers and a handful of other staff.  But everyone knows everyone and apparently, everyone knows everyone's business.  The sad thing is, even my students have not behaved so abhorrently.  They have been far more mature and understanding about the whole experience.  To see adults behave so rudely is simply disgusting.

At first, my natural reaction was to be just as rude and horrible back but let's be honest, character is about doing what is right all the time, not just when it is easy.  Since two wrongs do not make a right, I have decided that rather than behaving gracelessly, like all the other adults, I will turn my cheek, hold my head high and realize that Eleanor Roosevelt was wise beyond her time.  "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

And here's the thing: I've never really been insecure about myself until now.  But don't be misled, I was not the beautiful child or the teenage girl that all the boys wanted to be with, but I was thin enough and kind of cute and that was always good enough for me.  Later, I was lucky enough to have met and dated my husband at the adolescent age of sixteen and he lovingly provided me with strength and confidence that many girls did not, and still do not have.  I have always been independent and never cared much what others thought of my looks, brains, or personality.  So for the first time in my life, I really feel insecure.  People are staring at me.  People are talking about me, whispering behind my back.  How do I handle this????

After much thought, my decision is this: I don't.  It's that simple.  I never cared before what people thought, so why should I now?  I am who I am and if someone doesn't like it, so what?  They probably don't like themself very much either.  So I will let them talk and stare and whisper and I will respond with grace and kindness for their ignorance.  I am guided now by this quote I found.

"By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower."  -Rabindrath Tagore

To me it means this: they may pluck at me with their insults and their whispers and their stares, but they will not affect me and they will remain as ugly inside as ever.  But I will stand strong and tall, I will hold my head high, and I will be as beautiful as ever both inside and out, because it is character that forms true beauty; not makeup, or hair, or even... teeth.


  1. Beauty is skin deep but ugly is to the bone. You keep being your same sweet self and let those busybodies do what they do. They'll get their due.

  2. Hope S: I agree! And oddly enough, when I decided to ignore the busybodies, they found something else to talk about in just a few days!