Well, it’s done.
My teeth have officially been braced, and I’ve already broken three brackets. So far, I win at braces. I went from this:
I titled this entry “paradigm shift” because the next three years of my life will require a major one.
Definition, just in case. And it’s from Wikipedia, so you know it’s legit:
The term “paradigm shift” has found uses in other contexts, representing the notion of a major change in a certain thought-pattern — a radical change in personal beliefs, complex systems or organizations, replacing the former way of thinking or organizing with a radically different way of thinking or organizing
Much like the majority of women out there, it’s taken me some time to “grow into” and truly accept my appearance. While it’s not every day (yet), there have been days where I wake up, look in the mirror and think “MAN I’m rockin’ it today!” There are also days where I’d like to cover all reflective surfaces with opaque paint, but those are fewer and further between than they used to be.
However, majorly altering my appearance right in the middle of my self-acceptance phase is consequently going to require some major brain rewiring. This, getting braces, is something I’ve been waiting for and hoping for for many years, but I don’t think it’s possible to fully anticipate the impact it will have on your self-esteem/self-image.
I don’t think I’m hideous or anything, but I feel like I’ve set back my mental picture of myself by several years. This is where the paradigm shift comes into play.
For me, it won’t be enough to sit back and let old insecurities creep up, while I feel helpless to intervene and stop it. Instead of growing into my new look gradually, as I did going from adolescence into adulthood, I want to take this by storm. I’m giving myself a solid week for the “woe is me” pity party adjustment phase, then enough is enough. I’m still the same person, my mouth just has a little more attitude than before.
I also intend to approach my appearance in a different way. I’ve never been very willing to invest much time or money into the way I look, opting for a very casual (and sometimes lazy) approach to beauty and fashion. I want to turn that on its head. I want to play an active role in deciding how I’m presenting myself to the world. Will that makeup help me feel beautiful? Can I afford it? Then to hell with it, I’m going to get it. Ditto haircuts, clothes, and any other girly indulgences. I got so used to a student lifestyle that these little treats fell by the wayside. It also doesn’t help that I never mastered makeup and always felt like I was playing dress-up in a community theatre when I wore it. I was never a very “girly-girl,” but it’s become clear to me that that doesn’t exclude me from participating in girly realms in my own way.
I’ve heard of the “fake it ’til you make it” attitude and I can’t think of a better time to adopt that full-on. Gone is the hesitation when making fashion decisions. Gone is the self-doubt of “Will I look good in this?” I don’t want to pretend that this will be easy; I anticipate it being incredibly difficult. But this is the first time I’m making an active decision to try, so I feel like that counts for something.
It’s funny how this big braces event precipitated a swing from caring too much about what others thought of me and my actions, to caring so very little. It may still sting when I feel rebuffed or rejected (for whatever reason) but a lot of that anxiety has been tapering off lately (which I think is thanks in part to my gluten-free diet).
Overall, I think it’s important to know when to take care of yourself. I spend a lot of time (gladly) taking care of others, and now it’s my turn to focus on me.