And not just because I'm bitter. Well, mostly because I'm bitter.

My teeth are my achilles' heel. Not that I haven't found plenty of other things to pick apart about myself, but that's been the one secret humiliation I've carried with me my entire life. Until recently, I've made it a point never to talk about them. Whenever someone gets on the subject of teeth in my presence, I quietly panic that they are going to suddenly remember how awful mine are and be embarrassed, which would in turn embarrass me. I sit through conversations listening to people talk about how they could never date someone with bad teeth, and panic some more.

You see, my family couldn't afford to get me braces growing up. So I sucked it up and endured all the grade-school bullying, and then the never feeling truly beautiful, or even pretty. But then, almost two months ago, I got my first ever full-time job with a salary and benefits. I thought maybe I could finally get my teeth fixed. I researched and fell in love with the idea of Invisalign, but discovered that my dental insurance doesn't cover orthodontics for adults. I knew it would be an almost unbearable burden on me to try to pay for it out of pocket, but the idea of being able to smile in pictures and not cringe when the word "teeth" is even mentioned was priceless to me. So I went to the consultation anyway.

Having someone look directly into my mouth and stare at my teeth was even more emotionally difficult than I thought. I hadn't thought I had many issues aside from spacing and alignment, since no dentist had ever given them a second thought other than recommending braces. But he rattled off a list of reasons my treatment would be especially difficult, and I broke down in tears the moment he left the room. Then the assistant came to discuss pricing. I need metal braces, no question, which would end up being 2 years of treatment, $6,000, and a $2,000 down payment.

I can't afford any of it. I won't for a while. I know it seems vain, but I'm sort of heartbroken.

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ETA: How do I make the image smaller? I know that's a thing that can happen, but I'm not very good at the Kinja.