sb10068865e-002.jpgMaybe you have a pronounced lisp, stubby fingers, fat knuckles, a gap in which you think is too big between your two front teeth, a big nose, a stutter step, or perhaps you are still dealing with acne as an adult. All of the things I have just mentioned, we have been programmed to believe are our imperfections, or as I’d like to refer to them; the very thing(s) that set us apart from someone else. For as long as I can remember, I have been incredibly different from my peers in some way, shape, or form. I was chubby, I had a head full of thick and sometimes unmanageable hair, I had pointy, elf-like ears, a wide smile, and I spoke as if I was an adult; my vocabulary was slightly advanced versus that of my peers. But, I do not remember a time in which my parents did not shower me with some form of encouragement or uplifting phrase to make me feel like I was the most beautiful child on earth. I also remember being taunted or bullied for my intelligence. To this very day, children who pick on those that appear *smarter* than them still boggle my mind. I had an affinity for reading and learning five times more than the neighborhood kids, yet I belonged; I could go outside and tangle with them in a game of kickball, freeze tag, Red Light|Green Light, or touch football. In my neighborhood, I was not an outcast, I was simply Angie’s daughter who lived on Waters Avenue; I was Tremaine.

In my younger years, I rarely focused on my flaws. I took what others said to me or thought of me as a means of jealousy and treated it exactly like that. There was one thing that could be labeled as a major insecurity and that was my teeth. I was a lover of chocolate and candy (but which child truly wasn’t back in the early to late 80’s?) and therefore had rotten teeth up until my baby teeth fell out to make room for the permanent teeth. In numerous photos from my childhood, one can find me smiling wide enough to be the Grinch who Stole Christmas’s daughter, but my mouth was always closed. I did not want anyone to see my teeth in the condition that they were in, so I covered them up as much and as often as I could. Meaning, when someone said something very funny, I developed a habit of laughing, but covering my mouth while doing so, and I spoke to others outside of my family with my mouth nearly closed. These habits followed me until my early teens and one day, I studied myself in the mirror while I was smiling and found that I had one of the most infectious smiles I had ever seen. I have been told that when I smile, I make others smile as well, and that is a wondrous feeling. It took a single day for me to realize that the one thing I sheltered for years actually made others happy. Since then, I have been smiling to no end. In every photograph, I am flashing my teeth and I truly love doing so.

The images that most of us see on television of the “perfect” woman or “perfect” man are impossible to reach or achieve. These are made up models from feeble minds that have nothing better to do than to issue out the bylaws of what a woman or man is supposed to look like. We cannot all look like Halle Berry, Claudia Schiffer, Patrick Dempsey, or Taye Diggs. If we did, I am telling you here and now, I would not want to be apart of that world. The one thing I am dealing with that I would consider an imperfection is acne. At the age of twenty-eight, one would think I would not have to even type this phrase. But unlike the people mentioned above, I do not have flawless skin, and I have tried every high-priced or low maintenance product out there to be rid of it. Yet, it still remains. It is the one thing that causes me to feel insecure when going out with others or showing my face in public. But, when I mention how I feel about my blemishes to those in my circle, I am told statements such as, “your acne is not as bad as you think,” “I’ve seen worse cases of acne, Tremaine,” and “I really would not worry about it.” And get this, (yes, you’ve guessed it) those who say these phrases have flawless skin; no visible sight of one blemish graces their faces. So, what have I done? I have given my skin a break from using all of the chemically doused products dermatologists and close peers recommend. I have resorted to washing my face in the morning with a warm cloth and doing only that. The results are slowly approaching, but I can live with it if it means clearer skin in my future.

Learning to live with your imperfections is something only you can do. If you have one thing or several things you feel keep your confidence level from rising, you must confront it, embrace it, and if you feel the need to, change it. But, there are some flaws we cannot change no matter how much we would like to. Undergoing surgery for what you think is a big and out of place nose, will only make room for something else you find imperfect after the change to your nose has been made. Once this begins, you will enter a cyclical situation and altering your appearance will be your main goal. I do not wish this on anyone. It is my hope that you take what others believe are your imperfections and turn them into things that can be glorified just as I did with my smile. It is also my hope that you realize you are a gift from God and that you will always be the greatest present you can receive. Learn to live with your imperfections; learn to love them as well. And ultimately, you will live to love you unconditionally. Peace~

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