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The Sickness of Money and the Superficial

There was a time until recent history that being in the working class and being of working-class means was not viewed as a tragedy. Today though it seems that being beautiful and/or having money excuses the need for being an accomplished person. With terms like "savage" and "hunty", becoming popular, I have to wonder if society was always so shallow or even how affected by it I am. When did the idea of paying for luxury items supersede the need for stability? As degrading as it is to admit, I once used to think that being beautiful or having money would solve all of life's problems. The truth is that neither matters terribly much and with one or the other in order, there are far too many problems ready to jump to the front of a priority list to ever make a person feel too comfortable. This is how I came to that conclusion.

I was always the "you'd be pretty if..." kind of beauty. Never really deemed attractive, but neither unattractive. The people I wanted to impress in my youth had a penchant to always mention the noticeable flaw about me and it pained me each time they did. Looking back it was not so bad, but at the time it felt devastating. You see, I had a slightly crooked front tooth. To me, it was the end of the world, to my dentist though, I had a cavity-free mouth and healthy gum tissue. I should have been grateful for my situation, yet all I could see was what was standing between me and my idea of my best self. In my late teens, I thought that making money and fixing this one problem would somehow allow me to get a better job and a better life. So, that became my go-to blame every time something went wrong for me.

This minor superficial inconvenience came to a breaking point after a humiliating breakup. I had expected to move in with my college-aged boyfriend after high school was over. It was something we talked about at length more than once. To my shock when the time arrived after my graduation, he declined to move forward at the last moment. Crushed, I asked him why and he replied it was because I was too ugly unless I fixed my tooth. I was 5 ft 7 inches tall, 106 lb, a natural strawberry blonde, with a reputable GPA, but to him, I was that flaw and nothing else. This heartbreak only furthered my resolve that all of my problems were due to that one thing and I dropped everything in my life to handle it head-on.

When I was left feeling unfit for society, I took a very unpleasant and soul-crushing manual labor job to pay to fix this seemingly horrible thing about myself. In doing so I moved away from all of my friends and put off college indefinitely. The job was as bad if not worse than I had anticipated. I worked 16 hours a day often 6 days a week, hauling boxes and sweating so much that my clothes were stiff with salt. Soon I became so thin that I could see all of my ribs when I stood up straight. This went on for a few years. Yes, I got the money that I wanted but by then though, I had nutritional deficiencies not normally seen in people who live in Westernized nations. No one talked about my front tooth anymore when they saw me. Instead, it was that I now needed breast implants to fix the atrocity of me being flat-chested from my psychically demanding work. It was really laughable and I was beginning to see that rude people say thoughtless things, that should not be held as either constructive or valuable.

Still, I pressed on and with my money, I got the work done to fix my smile. It was quick and pointless. The thing that I thought would make me happy for so long, meant nothing. No one even noticed the change. Looking back I realized that I could have been in school becoming a more educated person, or working toward a career. All I had from it was a lot less money and a resume that said I was very good at a job a conveyor belt could replace me in. Later seeing pictures of my former terrible self, it was clear that there was nothing wrong with me other than the company I kept. It takes a magnifying glass, a bright light, and to already know what to look for to see something was slightly out of place. Additionally, without that one flaw, there was more to pick at. I am a dull person, I am nearly blind without contacts or glasses and I am surprisingly annoying too. The change I put myself through hell to achieve meant so little to me after it was all said and done, that I didn't even bother to wear my retainer because I longer felt hurt by someone pointing out much about me in the way that I once did. I had believed completely that a single change was going to open doors for me and turn my life around, but it just didn't.

There is a difference between the superficial and the necessary. I am not so privileged that I do not know that money and good looks do not solve specific problems. Money pays for a home, healthcare, etc. Money does help, but when used for superficial pursuits it can become counterproductive. The problem is that it wasn't until after I solved what I thought was a massive hindrance that I realized it wasn't important. Maybe the way to sort out the what-if is to have self-respect and to spend the limited days on Earth that you have with people who care more about if you are breaking your back than if you have an unflattering feature. I finally understand that what may seem so important, may change in time. The work of sorting out the important and the superficial is never done it seems and I hope that by admitting this that I can save others who have had their hearts crushed from making my mistakes. You are more than what you wish you could change about yourself. No amount of money or the superficial is better than who you are because neither is a cure-all, you already are who you need to be to solve your problems.

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