This I Believe

Elisa - Wheaton, Illinois
Entered on December 14, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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Elisa Stough

Peterselli 8

Senior Rhetoric

11 December 2007


I believe in braces. Yes, the cold metal that can be cemented to teeth for years, the wires that cut into cheeks, or the occasional broken bracket because of lack of self-control. What about all the time suffering the pain of not being able to eat the chewy, sticky, and gummy candy of every kid’s childhood?

The first day I got my braces on, I was excited. There were butterflies doing circles in my stomach. My friends had them, and now I got to join the club. My appointment was over fast, and I looked at myself in the mirror. Looking back at me was a freak who was drooling all over herself. I didn’t look at all like my friends. I tried to bite into the sandwich my mom had made for lunch, and I got it stuck in my braces. Tears fell down as I sobbed uncontrollably. I have to have these braces on for three years, I think to myself. Those years were marked as my awkward and insecure stage. Finally, after my time was served eating nothing but soft food, the light appeared at the end of the tunnel.

It was incredibly painful as the dentist slowly twisted and turned the brackets to wrench them off the glued metal. I ran my tongue over the slippery flat surface I forgot was my teeth. I looked in the mirror at my new self and shed a tear because a part that had grown on me was lost. What everyone else saw, though, was my smile. Who knew that under the large protruding mouth filled with metal was something that would affect all those around me.

The moment I open my lips to show my pearly whites, the ones my parents paid thousands for, they change people’s moods. I got my braces off four years ago before I entered high school and that has made all the difference. It wasn’t until last year that I realized how great of an impact they had made on my legacy at my high school. A girl on my track team came up to me one day and she said, “Elisa, you always have that ridiculous smile on your face everyday. I hate to see it when I’m having a bad day because everywhere you are, in the halls or at practice, you’re so happy. It rubs off on me and makes my day that much better.”

I didn’t realize until that moment that all I under went during the long process of braces would one day help another. That something as simple as a straight smile to someone could change their whole outlook, even if they don’t know you. The first thing people see in me is my smile, even when the day isn’t going great. Paste one on and see how meaningful and affective it is to so many others. A smile does more than we know.