WHAT DOES YOUR SMILE MEAN TO YOU?
A smile is usually the first way I greet someone. It truly is the universal “hello,” the human connection that we all share. To me, my smile was not always something I shared. To be honest, it was for a while; the thing I tried to hide.
I do not remember the exact moment I realized that I was different, that my teeth and my smile were not perfect. But, I do vividly remember the feeling it caused because it is something that has never completely gone away. The feeling would came every time I would go to laugh at a joke, smile at a stranger, or eat in a group setting. It is a mixture of shame and embarrassment. It’s the feeling in my stomach that, I know, as soon as I open my mouth I will be seen as lower class.
It is my overbite. It is my spaced out teeth. It is the way that God made me. While some of those bad feelings I listed are true, I have learned that they are not all completely the truth.
The truth is that I love to laugh, I love to smile, and I also dearly love to eat. My self-worth is not confined to my mouth. I believe that who you are as a person outshines even the best Hollywood smile. I have grown to have this belief through friends, family and even learned this the harsher way, through some rude comments.
The most memorable of those comments came from this boy. He saw me across the room. He asked my friend for my phone number. We started talking. It’s always nice to feel sought after. We became friends and I felt like he really got me. The conversation came up, and I proposed this question to him one day “What would you change about me?” I’m not entirely sure of what I expected his answer to be. His off-handed reply was “If I was ever to date you, you would have to get braces.” Immediately, my hand flew over my mouth. My biggest insecurity thrown into my face by the boy who I thought loved me.
“No,” was my simple response. Nope. If you cannot accept me for the person I am, and the person I look like, then we are through. Heart broken, Bruno Mars “Just the Way You Are” became my theme song. Some day, I believed, someone would love me without having to change anything about me.
I am now happily engaged to an amazing man. I wake up every morning to him calling me “Beautiful;” he loves my smile; he thinks I am funny and smart. . One night he was holding me and started quietly singing into my ear “When I see your face, there’s not a thing that I would change, because your amazing, just the way you are.” I knew right then, that I loved him.
To me, my smile has been my biggest insecurity but it has also been my humility and my realization that who you are is not defined by how white and straight your teeth are. A smile is something that you should never feel ashamed of. I believe smiles are meant to be shared. Ever been particularly grumpy at the grocery store and have the cashier smile at you? It can definitely enhance your day. Why would we hide that from someone? You never know how it just might change their day.
So, what does your smile mean to you?