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“Vulnerability is the essence of romance. It’s the art of being uncalculated, the willingness to look foolish, the courage to say, ‘This is me, and I’m interested in you enough to show you my flaws with the hope that you may embrace me for all that I am but, more importantly, all that I am not.”

Looking in the mirror, how often do you curse the Gods for what they made of you? Do thoughts like “I wish I was a little taller/thinner/fatter/fairer…” creep in your mind, time and again? Do you embrace yourself and take pride in being who you are, or is it the other way around?

Humans are imperfect. The very essence of being human is embracing those imperfections and accepting oneself for who one truly is. But we all know that’s not the case, is it?

We’re all guilty of pursuing physical attractiveness. There’s nothing wrong with it. What’s wrong with putting on a full face of makeup and adorning yourself to your heart’s content? You might do anything to add that extra touch to your persona for people to observe if it’s in your hand and within your humble reach. The problem lies when it’s not in your hands, and you can do nothing about it.

The majority of us are born perfect with no flaws. When I say perfect, I’m referring to the fact that we resemble an ideal Homosapien, with every body part and organ in tip-top form and condition. If you’re not healthy enough, to begin with, the notion of beautiful and ugly is a stretch. We have the heavens to thank if you’re one of the fortunate ones like I am. However, not everyone is born flawless or even remains so for a lifetime. Mishaps occur, and that is a natural part of life.

In my case, I was fortunate enough to be born in the ideal shape of a human being. But because of some mishap, I became ‘imperfect’ and lost my smile for a while. Now with all hype and exaggerations from the prologue, don’t get the wrong idea here. All I lost was half of my upper left incisor. Now that I reflect, it doesn’t seem to be a big deal. But for a very long time, trust me, it did.

I was in junior high school, and like every other teenager, I was full of life and zeal. With my (impressive) report card, I convinced my parents to get me a geared bicycle as a reward. I was young and reckless, so not so surprisingly, one day, while performing some ‘cool’ stunts or acrobatics, I crashed into a bike running with full throttle, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I fell on my face with quite some velocity, the impact was fatal. After the accident, my face was unrecognizable. Lips ruptured, the nose broken, and the cheeks torn. But, the most tragic injury came from the part that didn’t hurt at all – my teeth. It was gone. Well, only half was gone, to be honest, but at the moment, it felt the other way. All the scars and wounds would eventually heal, but the tooth… it was never going to grow back. Although my appearance suggested the damage to be physical, it was more on the mental side.

I was devastated and couldn’t come to terms with the reality. It all felt like a nightmare to me. The doctor suggested that it was a miracle that I got away with such modest damage, but he certainly didn’t know what damage was going on inside my restless mind. Half of my incisor was not the only thing I lost. I lost my confidence to talk and smile.

When my face finally went from unrecognizable to somewhat recognizable, I couldn’t come to terms with what I was seeing. Every time I opened my mouth, the void between the upper and lower set of teeth kept peeking out. Even though it was all in my head, how do you convince yourself as a half-wit, immature 12-year-old that it is not a big deal? How do you present yourself in front of the creatures from the school? They get a kick out of making fun of everything unusual they come across.

After fully recovering, it was time to get back to school. I was in no mood to go, but my parents dragged me there by telling me it was no big deal. I gathered some courage, thinking – “how worse can it possibly get?” If worst comes to worst, I would complain to the teacher if anyone tried to make fun of or bully me.

The biggest plot twist and irony was that she (the teacher) was the first person who made fun of and laughed at it. Again reflecting, it was all in good humor, but at that point, it didn’t feel like it.

“People gossip. People are insecure, so they talk about other people so that they won’t be talked about. They point out flaws in other people to make them feel good about themselves. I think at any age or any social class, that’s present.” Blake Lively

I was not someone who took personal jokes sportingly and was never one to laugh at others either, so it affected me a lot when I became the center of it. Every morning, when I brushed my teeth, I cursed the gods for what they had done to me. In public, I couldn’t crack a genuine smile or chuckle. I was always aware of my surroundings, especially when meeting new individuals, and I kept my distance.

Everyone laughed and joked about it. They eventually got bored and accustomed to it over a while. I didn’t.

Seasons passed, and it took about two years for me to eventually show myself without being conscious and restraining myself. Though I gained the confidence to participate in social activities with others, there was one task that caused me to relapse into the same self-conscious, underconfident person. It was posing for the camera. In the back of my mind was the concept that you should never reveal your teeth to the camera. I used to bite my bottom lip against my top teeth during the process, which resulted in some of the most horrifying human pictures you’ll ever see. It was something I’d been carrying around for a long time. In fact, I didn’t stop posing like that until the conclusion of my first semester of engineering.

“Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you.” Tyrion Lannister

I ultimately beat the crap out of the monsters in my psyche that had crept through following the mishap about eight years later. I still wonder how many new connections or relationships were meant to be but got wrecked due to my fear or so-called lack of confidence. It’s pointless to think about it right now.

For now that I have gained the confidence to accept myself for who I am – a slim, lanky, nerdish looking guy with a half-missing upper left incisor constantly smiling through his broken teeth.


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