An update is long past due. And this won't even be a full one, but I was looking through my past posts tonight and I got really emotional for whatever reason. I just realized all of the sudden how far I've come.
Last night, I finished a college application, and there was an essay portion. The essay prompt was "What is one of the most difficult things you have ever done or experienced? What made it difficult and what did you learn?". So naturally, I wrote about my jaw-journey, because this is BY FAR the most difficult thing I've gone through. And I was pretty proud of my essay... here it is:
Puberty left me with an underdeveloped lower jaw. This resulted in two problems: one aesthetic (I had a receding chin), and one functional (only my back four molars touched making eating a difficult process). The only way to fix this was through surgery, so in October 2013 I got my third set of braces in preparation for a summer 2014 surgery. I spent the following school year with issues of self-esteem and self-doubt. With my deformed jaw, I didn’t feel good enough for anything or anyone— socially, I wanted to hide until I was “fixed”. I found myself counting down the minutes between each orthodontist appointment, desperate for any sign of progress. Finally my mouth was deemed ‘surgery-ready’ and my surgery date was set for July 30, 2014. After surgery, my mouth was wired shut for a week, and I was put on a liquid diet for six weeks; my mouth was too weak to chew anything. I was numb, swollen, and droolly. Even talking and breathing took a conscious effort. But it was worth it. Now, I have a functional bite, and a real chin! And I’ve learned some great lessons. I’ve learned the importance of kindness––that even if you don’t feel worthy, people will be kind. My self-esteem is improving. People may say looks don’t matter, but to each individual, looking good is important. I now know that it’s important to give others all the kindness you have, because you do not know what battles they may face. I’ve learned the importance of patience. That progress comes in millimeters. I’ve learned the importance of community— throughout this journey, I had an international community of internet-jaw-blog-friends that I could relate to, and gather tips from. Unity is strength. And finally, I’ve learned the importance of a good bite. Without one, you can’t properly consume sandwiches.
There was a word limit (and this was actually not my final draft, because it exceeds the limit), but because of the word limit, I didn't feel like I could fully explain what I learned. Especially what I've learned concerning physical appearance. It's just so complex and hard to explain! You live your whole life growing up with a deformed jaw. No one really thinks you look deformed because that's how they've known you, but you know you shouldn't look the way you do. Thus questions like, "But you look fine, why do you need surgery?" come up. You know you look wrong. Getting this surgery was 100% worth it aesthetically for me. My confidence has improved tenfold because of it.
Ok. That's all the thoughts I have the time for tonight. I have an orthodontist appointment this Thursday, so HOPEFULLY I can get myself to update again then! (I've been having issues with my bite opening back up which is scary...)