The Struggle of Adult Braces

For the last one year and 51 weeks I have been enduring what most people endure during their middle-school awkward phase— braces.

I made the decision my junior year of high school to go through with braces. My parents were pushing for it, but ultimately the decision was mine to make. And, after a couple months of deliberation and asking my friends for their opinions, I went for it. Although I considered my teeth to be “not that bad” to begin with, the idea of having perfectly straight teeth seemed worth it to me.

And boy, did I come to regret that decision.

My day to day braces lifestyle consisted of getting half the food I ate stuck in my wires, icing my throbbing jaw after every trip to the orthodontist, and awkwardly trying to smile for pictures without showing off my metal brackets.

The struggle of adult braces is immense. Having people make comments like, “I remember when I had braces…” and “Why are did you get them so late?” was like getting slammed by a wave of humiliation. I’m not saying that people were being condescending or talking down on me for having braces five years after the normal age, but every time someone brought them up I was utterly embarrassed. I felt like my braces were the first thing everyone saw when they looked at me. It was especially distressing coming to college and trying to make a whole new group of friends (I’ve yet to run into a fellow brace face on campus. Not to mention, they made kissing very, very awkward).

On top of the awkward timing of having braces throughout my junior and senior year of high school and freshman year of college was the actual, physical pain. For a week after I first got them on, I couldn’t even chew french fries. The first day I got rubber bands I was sitting in my kitchen in tears because I was hungry but my jaw was too sore for anything I was offered. I had to get a tooth pulled so my bite would line up (I still don’t completely understand that). Months of your mouth hurting so much it gives you headaches, having your risk of getting cavities skyrocket, and having to get poked and prodded by an orthodontist gets really, really old.

“Straight teeth are not worth this,” I said more than once, usually followed by a rant on society’s ridiculous expectation for perfection.

But yesterday, a week shy of two full years, was the day my mouth was liberated from its metal chains. Yesterday my braces came off. No more getting bits of food stuck between my brackets. No more of my mouth aching from moving teeth. No more self-conciously covering my mouth with my hand when I smile.

My mouth looks pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. And I feel pretty damn good. My self-confidence has never been the strongest, but it’s gone through a major boost in the last 24 hours. I was wrong— all of the pain and embarrassment and discomfort I went through for two years was worth it. I’m looking forward to what life has to offer the new, braces-less me.

Oh, and here’s a picture:

Please pardon the awkward selfie
Please pardon the awkward selfie

General musings on my last day of doing nothing

So, this is it. Today is the last day my butt will be parked in my favorite chair in my living room with the Netflix logo perpetually on my TV screen.

Saturday I’m going back to CoMo and tomorrow is my 19th birthday, so I will be out and about with my mother- celebrating at the movie theater with a showing of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (finally), stuffing my face at the Cheesecake Factory, and buying more books I don’t need at Barnes and Noble.

I’ve been looking forward to returning to school since before I left, and I am happy to be going back. But now that the date is basically here, I’m getting to be a little homesick. Despite being home alone all day and bored out of my mind, I have enjoyed being back. I love hanging out with my mom and watching trash TV (namely America’s Next Top Model and Breaking Amish. However, I have recently introduced her to the perfection of Arrested Development, and she is hooked.) And, I never thought I’d say it, being around my dad and sister is pretty nice too.

So, in my last few hours of doing nothing, I thought I would take the opportunity to post because I have been neglecting to do so these past few days. This last week I’ve actually been doing things! I know, it’s amazing, right?

I’ve spent the last few days hanging out with a few of my friends who are still blissfully in town, being introduced to a terrifying video game called Outlast, and I’ve been working on articles for The Maneater for the first time since November- specifically, I’ve been swamped with two stories and my very first column.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that having a movie column is completely intimidating, daunting, petrifying, and other scary adjectives. On Monday I went to AMC (alone. sigh) and saw Spike Jonze’s Her, which I chose to discuss for my first column. The whole time I was trying to write I just kept thinking: “what have I gotten myself into?”

I love movies, but I don’t claim to be an expert. What if  I completely misread something? What if I give an awful movie a good review? What if I give an acclaimed movie a bad review? What if I sound horribly pretentious? What if I just sound stupid? Oh my god, I’m going to have to set aside time every weekend to make it out to the CoMo movie theater. Oh my god- I’M GOING TO HAVE TO SPEND SO MUCH MONEY ON MOVIES I DON’T EVEN WANT TO SEE. Let’s see, 16 weeks a semester, one movie a week at an estimated $7.50 per ticket, that makes me…BROKE.

On top of my column, I’m going to be assigned a story for my Student Life beat every week. Like I was this week. Today I woke up to an enthusiastic Facebook message from my editor that literally began with, “I HAVE A PITCH FOR YOU AHHHHH ARE YOU SO EXCITED??!” Um, sure? One story, one column. No sweat. But, of course, I have signed up to write a different story for MOVE this week, bringing the grand total to three. THREE. Oh goodness, how do I get myself into these situations?

Changing the subject before I stress myself out even more, today I had an orthodontist appointment. I’ve been suffering through adult braces for just under two years, and today I received fabulous news. In six short weeks, at my next appointment, I will be liberated from this living hell. That’s right, no more braces for me! Thank. God. I can’t wait to eat an apple like a normal person without having to cut it up first. I can’t wait to not awkwardly bite guys with my braces when we kiss. I can’t wait to be able to sink my teeth into a burger or one of those amazing buffalo chicken sandwiches from Dobbs without getting hella food wedged between my brackets. I can’t wait to not look like a 12 year-old. Life is good.

Well, I think I’ve neglected packing my mountain of clothes that is currently covering the floor of my room for long enough. And I don’t want to be bothered with packing on my birthday, so I’m going to go be a responsible grown-up person now.

This may be my most random post to date, so thank you for hearing me out.