“Survival of the fittest.” Many of us have heard this term at some point in our lives. College is a little like this, not in the sense that it’s a battle or that only the ones who survive until graduation are the strongest. That’s not how I’m coining this phrase. Survival of the fittest in this instance has everything to do with braces.

Most of you have had them. Some of you have just been welcomed into the group. Like myself, for example; I had braces put on two months before returning to Gannon. It was hard enough learning to pronounce some words all over again, but learning how to become comfortable smiling again was harder than I thought. I’ve always been comfortable and confident with who I am. I was the person that wore onesies in public and could eat a whole bucket of chicken from KFC. It was just who I was. After getting braces I found I was not comfortable doing those things anymore.

I was so self-conscious. I did not want to draw even more attention to myself; the braces did it enough on their own. After realizing that I was the one making me uncomfortable and not the braces, I changed my attitude towards them. Instead of hating them, I found that you should just embrace them. They are material objects; they cannot define who you are as a person. You can choose what defines you; I chose that braces did not define me.

Some tips that are helpful for your journey with braces are pretty simple. Viewing braces in a positive light does wonders for your well being. Always being negative can drive you to resent not only your braces, but yourself as well. Along with staying positive you should not sweat the small stuff. Making a big deal of not being able to eat things like corn, caramel candy and my personal favorite — popcorn — is not the end of the world.

The last piece of wisdom that was honestly the most helpful was to find beauty in the braces. It is easier said than done, but once you find at least one thing that you find beautiful about them, it can help build your confidence. There is beauty in everything, including braces. All you have to do is have faith that everything works out in the end.