It is a day that I remember vividly, because it is the day that my smile changed. I woke up in an ambulance with blood coming out of my mouth. I felt something missing, but I couldn't figure it out just yet. The last thing I remembered was standing up on a ledge several feet high with my choir group. We were on a trip away, practicing for a competition.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was informed that I had fainted and fallen. My face had caught my fall and my four front teeth had been knocked out.
I had just started high school and I had told my mom that I wanted to wear makeup and get trendy clothes like the other kids. It was a stage of change for me, one in which I defined myself by the way I looked.
On this day however, things changed. As my parents looked for a dentist for the tremendous dental work I would need, I had to go to school with four missing teeth. For a teenager in high school, this caused a tremendous amount of distress.
All I kept thinking about was this big, gaping flaw that I had. I did not smile and kept talking to a minimum in order to hide it.
But it was in these few days that I learned about the true meaning of identity. I saw how people looked at me differently because my physical appearance had changed even though I was the same person inside.
After several painful dental procedures, I got four new teeth. But they had metal in the back and as the years went by, the metal became more noticeable.
Family members started to tell me not to smile too big in pictures, because the "ugly line" above my teeth will show. And when I got professional photos taken, the photographer commented, "Do you love the photos? I fixed your teeth!"
All these comments, though not ill intentioned, started to chip away at my self image.
However, as the years went by, I realized that it is my perceived flaws that make me real.
This is what I learned about flaws:
1) They help you acknowledge your truth
We should all be grateful for the body that we have been given. Because we live and breathe in it. It is the vessel that allows us to fully experience life.
To hide our flaws or to deny our age is to deny who we are. Our flaws are our truth. And the moment we own who we are, we position ourselves to receive the greater blessings life has to offer.
2) They are only a small part of a greater being
If you have ever practiced mindfulness meditation, then you know that you are more than just your body. Inside of you lies a world of emotions and feelings. Your flaws are a small part of who you are as a whole.
When people look at you, let them see more than a pretty face. Let them see a kind and pure heart. When you stand in front of the mirror, concentrate on that which is right with you instead of what you think is wrong. Because ultimately what you focus on, expands.
One of my favorite quotes is from Susan Sarandon:
I look forward to being older, when what you look like becomes less and less an issue and what you are is the point.
What you are, is entirely the point.
3) The faster you accept them, the less you will be hurt by others
The reason why other people's comments affected me was because I had not accepted myself first. The moment I was able to bless my flaw and thank it for what it had given me, I found that what other people said had no power over me.
As Dr. Wayne Dyer said:
What other people think of me is none of my business.
What other people think of your physical appearance is none of your business. Next time someone commented on my teeth, I smiled even more, because what lay inside of me was so much more powerful and enduring than any physical flaw.
4) They help you realize that your greatest asset is self confidence
We all know one person that always seems to own a room as soon as they enter into it. While they may have good looks going for them, I can guarantee you that even more than that, they have self-confidence.
I recently had the pleasure of discovering the story of an amazing woman named Laxmi, a young girl in India who was brutally attacked with acid by a man. Though her face was disfigured, her spirit was not.
They refuse to hide their faces because they radiate confidence and strength and show us what beauty really means. They stand in their own truth and let their light shine. Can anything be more beautiful?
This past month, the time had come to get new crowns put in as my older ones had gotten too old. When the dentist showed me my new shiny teeth, I started to weep.
I cried not because my flaw was no more. I cried for all it had given me. I cried because I was so thankful for the spark it lit inside of me, for the strength it gave me to be free from the opinions of others, and for the ability to define myself beyond my physical appearance.
I now know that whatever you perceive as a flaw has been given to you for a reason. You are meant to love it, accept it, and break free from the mental boundaries placed by society. It is not the flaw that is the problem, it is your feelings around it.
We are meant to stop striving to the ideals in magazines or TV shows. You are your greatest ideal, your greatest cheerleader.
Stand in your truth. Show the world that you are wonderfully made.
This post originally appeared on Spirit Miner
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