08/09/2012 06:10 pm ET Updated Oct 09, 2012

What My Braces Didn't Fix

I wore braces as a teenager. No big, except for one thing. The fantasy I had of how I'd look when they came off.

I imagined going from "bookish, nothing special" -- in my own estimation, anyway -- to, well, gorgeous. Someone who'd stop traffic, who'd inspire even the cool guys in school to say things like, "She may be in Math Club, but she is smokin'."

The braces came off, and... I looked almost exactly the same! The teeth were perfect -- but the rest? It hadn't changed. Not one little bit.

Maybe you've heard of people who spend much of their adulthood fantasizing about what life would be like if they got down to their ideal weight. They finally do that -- get their weight under control, and keep it there -- but none of their other problems go away.

It makes me think we ask too much of braces, or weight loss, or a dream job. Braces fix teeth. Weight loss improves health. A dream job provides another dandy reason to get up in the morning.

But solving one problem doesn't make the others go away, necessarily. It might even be harder, because so much of your energy went into solving the first problem.

If it takes a while to build that momentum back up, I hope you'll take comfort in this. You're still ahead by one project!

Maybe you've heard that the only time you'll be without problems is when you're dead.

So. Don't be dead.

For more by Maureen Anderson, click here.

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