Having Adult Braces:: Lessons in Patience, Self-Acceptance, and Persistence

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I’ll just go ahead and name the elephant in the room. I’m in my thirties and I just got braces. Which I’ll be wearing for the next two years. Let that sink in.

Nothing exudes confidence quite like a big mouth of metal, right?! Eye roll.

Adult braces are a HUGE ego check. Even being only a few months in, having braces as adult has taught me a few important lessons:

Patience

For the first several weeks, I had MAJOR buyer’s remorse and I complained to anyone who would listen that I wanted to rip the stupid things off. (For the record, it has become apparent that no one really wants to listen to an adult whine about how many times a day they need to brush and floss now). Trying to help, my husband equated the situation to having a baby. “You know, when you’re pregnant, it seems like 9 months is a long time, but then the baby is here. Time goes so fast.”

UM, first of all, it’s really 10 months (☺️) and second of all, easy for him to say given that he isn’t the one doing either of those things!

However, he also reminded me of a very important point I hadn’t considered:  So many things in life are rewarded if we can just be patient. Things like, promotions at work and in relationships (ahh that dreaded wait for that first “I love you” from a new boyfriend).  

We’ve been pretty focused on our finances the last year, so having to wait for braces is even kind of like all that saving and investing; persistence, focus and patience all pay off. Because eventually, the braces will come off and I will have so much to show for it.

BracesSelf-Acceptance

Though it’s recent, these braces have been a few years in the making.  My initial consultation was pretty soon after having my second child and I just wasn’t mentally in a place where I could pull the trigger on anything like this. That’s a whole long story. Maybe for another blog post.

But it hit me hard these past few months as I’ve started noticing more and more adults with braces. I recently had a female bartender who served my table and who happened to have braces. It never became a conversation topic at the table or anything, and why would it, because it wasn’t like I was judging her or any of the other non-teen brace wearers I see. Of course not. So I can’t revert back to a teenage state and waste my time shrinking into a shell or being self-conscious and worrying about what “you” think. The way, or any of us, CHOOSE to look, to act, etc., it’s not for everyone.  The braces may call extra attention to my teeth, but it’s not like they weren’t in need of help to begin with! 

I can’t compare my smile to some other woman’s smile. And I certainly can’t let having braces, or anything else about my appearance, connect with any part of my self-worth. I can’t control whether or not someone else likes me, but I can control whether or not I’m likable–and that has nothing to do with my appearance.

Honestly, while I know that to be true, my self-confidence does kind of ebb and flow these days. The majority of the time yet for photos I’m closed-lip smiling, but still, there’s something so dang freeing about the mindset shift I’ve made. We each have the power to do what we want. Like, whatever we want. At any and all times.

I can choose braces.

You can choose to get a tattoo. Seriously, you do you.

This is not new or ground-breaking as far as revelations go, but it’s just that it’s easy to lose sight of self as a priority when parenting in the first few years. I’m using the apathy about what others think to fuel a new path forward for self-care. As of late, I’m starting to get back on track with nutrition and exercise finally (though it is hard to eat salads and healthy, crunchy vegetables with braces!) This year, I also took classes and got baptized, so even with my set of adult braces, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to fast forward to “debond day” (that’s what the orthodontist tells me is the day I finally get them off), but I always keep in the forefront of my mind a quote I once read from a popular mom blogger (with EIGHT kids!), and this has stuck with me:

Hard is not the same thing as bad.

Now let that sink in.

Having these braces is hard and painful–literally and figuratively. (Lots of ibuprofen on the day of an adjustment, just sayin!) So I put this all out there into the universe now in hopes that one of you can identify in this message of finding confidence–and I’m also sharing this for the Facebook memory that will pop up later. 😉 I still have a bit until I get my bottom set on; I’ll definitely need these reminders for my future self.

Any other brace faces out there, please comment below so we can connect and commiserate. I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips.

And if I could leave everyone with one final thought, it’d just be: SMILE.