For as long as I can remember I’ve hated my teeth. I hate how my right front tooth is chipped, I hate that gap in my teeth is large enough to process card transactions, and I hate that in pictures I often look like the process of a piranha animorphing back into a human. I’m constantly told that my teeth aren’t bad; my friends do their best to make me feel less self conscious about them. If there’s anything I’ve learned about low self esteem though it’s that the voice of insecurity in your head will always outweigh the ones around you. A million people could tell me my teeth are fine, but until I can look in a mirror and see that for myself, I’ll never be able to believe that.

Ever since I was little I’ve felt that I was lacking in the looks department. I felt that I was too short, too round and too effeminate. Girls showed little interest in me, boys thought of me as lesser, and so I just told myself that I was ugly and out of place. I convinced myself that the only way I’d be successful in life was if I developed an award winning personality. I needed to have something that would make me worthwhile as a friend, something that would make me boyfriend material even if I wasn’t physically desirable, so I embraced humor. I became a pop culture savant and developed a biting wit and quick tongue. And it worked- I’m *hilarious* now.

The issue with focusing solely on personality is that you begin to use it as a crutch. You become fearful that if you aren’t always “on” that people will begin to fixate on your appearance. In the past I felt that if I wasn’t sassy or quick-witted enough that people wouldn’t want to associate with the me. I invested so much energy into performing as a character because I was afraid that was the only worthwhile thing about me. I thought that if I was funny enough people would forget that I was ugly and I believed that if I was too serious or moody that people wouldn’t think I was worth the time.I had so many pretty friends and I was scared that if I didn’t prove my worth they’d discard me. I truly bought into the “if you’re fat you have to be funny or jolly” thing, except my version was “if you’re ugly you have to be funny”. Whenever you have low self esteem you feel as if people only like you on the condition that you continue to offer enough things to cancel out your perceived flaws, which is far too exhausting.

While I’ve always been self conscious about my weight and skin, I’ve always thought that they were things that I could change on my on. My teeth, however, were something I was stuck with unless I did something about it. So for the last few months I’ve toyed around with the idea of getting veneers. I’ve had consultations with my dentist, I’ve read Wiki Hows on the subject, and asked my friends and families for their thoughts on it. Today I met with my dentist for one last consultation so that I could really figure out if it was the best option for me. He talked me through the process and the cost and I started to slightly panic. I began to worry that the teeth would look fake or if people would judge me for changing them. I was worried if it would scar me psychologically, or just heighten my insecurities. I mean if I got veneers I’d be effectively telling myself, “you never need to accept yourself for who you are. you should constantly be changing.” And I was afraid that getting them done would open some sort of gateway; I was terrified that it would make me want to get other work done and effectively redo my entire appearance. I have been worried that if I got my teeth done that I’d never truly be able to love myself. I’m afraid that I’ll never be able to look in a mirror and feel handsome.

I’ve decided to get the veneers done. It’s going to be a costly process; I mean we’re talking upwards of 7500 dollars. I know I’m going to look different, but apparently not all that different, which is great. People have told me my gap gives me character, but like who the fuck wants to be a character? The reason why I’m okay with getting them done is because I know I am doing it for myself and not for others. I am not getting veneers because I want to look hot for boiz, I am doing it because I have the financial flexibility to improve my appearance and bolster my self confidence. And maybe it does say something bad about me, maybe I’ll just be wearing a sign on my back that says “this kid hates himself.” I don’t really know. I just know that I shouldn’t let something as trivial as teeth ruin my life. I should feel confident enough to pose for pictures and I should be able to spend my free time doing something other than looking at my smile in a mirror. So yes, I am changing myself, but sometimes change is good. And just like I shouldn’t make decisions about my teeth for other people, I shouldn’t and won’t let what people think about me changing myself stop me from doing so. The cost of self esteem can be high, but being able to look in the mirror and say yourself , DAYUM SHORTY YOUZ A TEN” is priceless.