My family is straight outta South Carolina and hella country. Not quite The Hillbilly’s but they possess many of the same qualities. Never went to the doctor because Cod Liver Oil cures all, eating parts of random animals that you should never eat (a soup made out of pig's brain...REALLY) and the worse of all the process of pulling a tooth.
I wished that my grandma followed the movies and how cool they made it look; you know tie a string around the tooth and attach it to a door. But no, she would tilt your head back with a forceful left hand while wiggling the tooth with her right. I use wiggle very lightly. She used all her strength and if it wasn’t loose she pretty much made it. If tooth only gave the slightest budge she would say “this tooth is loose.”
THIS WAS NOT GOOD NEWS!
Instead of allowing the tooth to naturally fall out; she would firmly grasp it, twist it ONE good time and YANK it out of your mouth (give me a second, I’m having PTSD just thinking about it).
I concluded that I was NOT about this life and put together a plan. Anytime a tooth was about to come out I wouldn’t say a word and kept my grandmother far away from checking my mouth. While it cured my fears. It also created a problem. My teeth weren’t coming out on their own. This caused my teeth to grow on top of each other.
A beautiful smile became the butt of every joke on the playground. I remember in the third grade at my birthday bowling party (the only birthday party I have ever had; J-Day is Sept 21st if you want to surprise me this year…Thanks in advance). My aunt bought a cake with my face on it, and one of my friends said to stay away from the teeth. My feelings were hurt. One of my biggest assets became my insecurity.
I have the answer!
I ran home when I discovered the concept of braces. “Ma! Can I get braces?!” Of course, this was not new to her. The dentist had suggested it several times. Her response “You can get some braces alright, go down to the basement we have some wire and cement; you can take your crayons and make them any color you want.” (now you see where I get my sarcastic ways from).
My dream of straight teeth had died.
Your Lesson: I am sure that you developed wild aspirations as a child. It could’ve been an occupation, a new talent, or a place that you desire to live. What happens? Somewhere along the path someone come and crush our dreams. Telling us that we will never achieve it. Though we may hide and tell ourselves that we no longer care about it, a piece of the dream still lives inside of us.
Hide your desires
Braces were out of the picture. If I couldn’t fix it, I just wouldn’t expose my smile. Nothing is worse than when you are having a great day and a guy walks up “Smile miss thang.” No I don’t want to. But when I would get caught slipping I would receive rave reviews of how beautiful my smile was. But I wouldn’t believe what they were saying; in my mind, I was still the insecure crooked teeth third grader.
A resurrected dream
I recently began to visit a new dentist and the conversation about braces resurfaced. Every visit I would say “right now I can’t afford it.” That is amazing how I knew I couldn’t afford it when I didn’t even know the price. But subconsciously all I would think about was getting my hopes up only to be let down again.
One day as I was meditating I admitted to myself that I wanted straight teeth. I didn’t hide anymore but put my intentions out into the open. The next time I went to the dentist she informed me that the consultation would be free and they could give me a breakdown of cost with insurance. I went. To my surprise, I COULD afford it. I went through with it. 20 years later my dream would come true.
My first day with my braces I snapped a picture and sent it to my brother Ju with the message #BraceFace. His replied “aren’t you too old to be getting braces…”
Some dreams will be accomplished in days while others may take years. You will lose focus, and life will turn you for a loop. But if there is a burning desire on the inside of you that just won’t go away. GO FOR IT! You may be old in the eyes of others but you are right where you need to be. Age and dreams do not have an expiration date. You can always pursue them. Who cares if you are the oldest one in the classroom, or in the internship program. Would you rather think of the “what if’s"? I am here to tell you that there is no greater feeling than accomplishing what you set out to do. In the words of the late great Aaliyah “Age ain’t nothing but a number.”
- signed a 27-year-old brace face