induces anxiety, discomfort, insecurity
produces feelings of relief, assurance, confidence
Most people close enough to me will know that my biggest insecurity, one I’ve found impossible to come to terms with, is my facial asymmetry and misaligned jaw. And it’s not just in my head. I’ve had countless scans from the dentist showing me that my lower jaw tilts slightly upwards on one end and twists to one side and that my ramus bone is almost a centimeter longer on the right. It didn’t matter that no one else could really see it. I could see it in every photo I was in and every time I looked in the mirror. It was always the first place my eyes would go to. “Bad face days” were when one side looked so much bigger, and “good face days” were when my face looked somewhat symmetrical (which is kind of funny since your jaw isn’t something that changes on the day to day). I used to hate sharing my biggest insecurity because I felt like I’d be pointing out to people something I tried to hide from myself and do mental gymnastics about on a daily basis, and make them from then on and forever notice it.
Like all insecurities, this wasn’t something I slid out the womb with. I’m not sure when it really began, but probably when I started going to the dentist at the age of 6 because my mom had the same issue and my sweet parents wanted to minimize it as much as possible for me. Dentists would show me countless scans and moulds and diagrams and explain to me how they were going to fix my face in great detail. That was the first time I realized it was a “problem”. Then one day at a family dinner, my dad shared the fun fact that the more symmetrical a person’s face is, the more attractive they are. I sat there realizing my face was the last thing from being symmetrical. That’s when I equated the “problem” to being “unattractive”. My dad went on to say that one way to test your own symmetry is to flip a photo of yourself and reconstruct your face with a collage of the same side. Afterwards, I did just that and was appalled at how different my face looked flipped. I made that ridiculous collage and it looked almost alien to me. At that moment this insecurity planted its roots; it was there to stay.
As I grew up, I somehow decided I preferred one side more than the other. I started parting my hair to cover the “bad side” and flipping my photos a certain way (looking at photos of me unflipped made me uncomfortable). When I started putting makeup on, my brows, contour, and eyeshadow miraculously always looked better on my good side, and I dreaded doing my makeup on the other.
Two months ago my unlucky ass ended up in the emergency room at 11pm and I walked out with 17 stitches on my good side. For the next month, I started paying more attention to my bad side, because, well, it became my only side. I started showing it in photos for a change, looking forward to doing my makeup there. And lo and behold, suddenly I began to prefer it, it became the “pretty” side. Even after the wound subsided, I noticed that I continued to prefer it and appreciated it’s unique features, the same ones I despised all my life. But at the same time, to my utter disbelief, I grew a newfound DISLIKE towards my formerly “good side”. It was as if my brain was wired to HAVE to hate one, as if we’re wired to always find something wrong with ourselves and struggle to accept the possibility of being perfectly fine as we are. I’m aware this sounds a little ridiculous and insanely mundane to most - truly a first world problem. But this was my reality. And looking back, I realize how unfortunate it is how much energy I spent on this built-in insecurity and self-criticizing. But in the moment, it didn’t feel like the energy being spent was optional. I accepted this perceived flaw as the truth and simply lived disliking this part of myself.
I've come to realize how distorted a person’s self-perception can be and how much of reality is built from perspective and a person's mental mindset. I’d still like to have a better-aligned jaw and a symmetrical face, but for now, I’ve thrown the labels that I’ve assigned to each side of my face all my life out the window and come to appreciate both sides with their different quirks and all. After all, I kind of get to have two looks in one face - how fun! :)