“I am not my gums”

Project Description:

Growing up, you get used to the features your DNA has given you.
Middle and High School quickly approach and its as if ANY and EVERY feature on you becomes a “flaw” to the people around you who are so insecure with themselves, they need to pick on you to feel better. I was not an exception to the rule.

I was given the name Mr. Ed in school due to a smile that revealed more gums than the average person. I dreaded school every day knowing I would endure teasing that cut me to the core. I acted tough on the outside saying nothing when those hurtful words were muttered from fellow classmates, yet inside every ounce of me mourned. Every class I went to there was at least one person that at one time would mutter my nickname and smurk as they said it. I can still hear the words and still see each and every person’s face that partook in that teasing. You start believing what they’re saying is true. For many years I dreamt about having an extremely painful and gruesome surgery to cut my upper jawbone, having bone and gums cut down and getting this picture “perfect” smile.

The day that stuck out so vividly was my Sophomore year. I had to walk by all the jocks to get to my locker and dreaded it every.single.time. This particular time, as I walked to my locker to get my books, they all paid special attention to me. I felt their eyes bury into my back. As I spun the lock around to the last number and opened my locker, I heard them all chuckle. I stood in shock to see that every one of my books had “MR. ED” written on the pages in black permanent marker.

As I became an adult, every one of these moments growing up formed who I am today. I went from being a timid, insecure girl to a strong woman who isn’t afraid to speak my mind and be who I am no matter what the “normal” is. I carry myself with confidence, whether I truly am confident in that moment or not. Showing a lack of it only gives people an opportunity to tear you down.

Even in the recent years as an adult, I’ve had people in my life attack my smile that don’t even know me. In that moment, I feel like that school aged child again and I’m taken back to those painful times.

Each of these experiences could have leveled me. I have chosen to grow from these hurtful words, and OWN my trademark smile.

Think carefully with what you say to people around you. YOU could be the one person that MAKES them, or BREAKS them.