Ah, ugly phases. A combination of braces, bad haircuts, acne, poor fashion choices and an unclear understanding of how to properly use deodorant. We all have them -- some of us worse than others.
The best part of my ugly phase was that it happened in high school. Everyone else had just kissed their middle school ugly days goodbye, and I was just walking in with a nice headgear, a mullet and “clear” braces that usually became neon yellow. Also, I had no idea how to use makeup.
I am not going to go so far as to say that those years were the best four years of my life ----- mostly because this is not meant to be a depressing article about a girl who peaked in high school.
But I will say that they were four great years. Sure, I had basically nothing going in my favor in the looks department. But that just made me hyper-aware of all of the other things I did have to offer.
To this day, when I find myself overly concerned with how I look, I think back to those days and try to channel the confidence I had as a 16-year-old girl who bore a striking resemblance to an ostrich.
That's not to say that I don't still get embarrassed by my ugly phase. I think we all do. To be honest, every picture I included in this article was carefully untagged and locked in private albums on Facebook to ensure nobody in my future life would see them. But you know what?
That's f*cking stupid. That was an awesome part of my life, and I should be proud of it. We spend so much time trying to hide our ugly phases that we forget about the wonders they did for us as human beings. So here's my ode to some of the best days of my life.
I became the goofball I am today.
My ugly phase taught me how to have a sense of humor about myself. I never took myself too seriously because ... well, I couldn't.
I developed a sense of humor and learned to laugh at myself before anyone else had the chance.
I have something to keep me grounded forever.
There is just honestly no thinking I'm cool. One look at any of these gorgeous photos and I immediately remember who I was and always will be at heart.
I made friends who genuinely loved me for me.
This is a picture of me and my adorable, blonde best friend, Shannon. Although it looks like I am doing some sort of funny face on purpose, I distinctly remember taking this picture and thinking I was doing a cute crinkly-nose smile.
Shannon is my best friend to this day, and I'm willing to bet that we'll remain best friends for the rest of our lives. Why?
Because our friendship has depth. We became friends for no reason other than the than the fact that we genuinely love each other as people.
I learned how to make the most of any situation.
I was not handed the best deck of cards as I entered the jungle that is high school. It was one of the most socially awkward chapters in my life.
But I still managed to make the most of my experience. I still managed to develop my own personality, work up the courage to share it with my peers and make great friends who appreciated me for who I was. I took what could have been my biggest shortcoming and turned it into my biggest asset.
I base my self-worth on more than appearance.
To this day, I have no idea where I would stand on a 1-10 scale. And I have no interest in finding out. Your adolescent years make up one of the most formative times of your life, and during that time looks weren't something I could bring to the table.
So I developed other things to like about myself. I became more than my looks.
I have no problem saying 'f*ck it' to the haters.
When I was in fourth grade, it was brought to my attention that the boys in my class were all calling me Chewbacca behind my back.
It wasn't until years later that I found out that Chewbacca was not French for “fashionable” or “love of my life.” No, it literally just meant I was a hairy beast. Want to know how many f*cks I gave? Zero.
First of all, I mentioned earlier that I have a good sense of humor about myself. I don't take myself too seriously.
I have no problem laughing off my haters and any insult they throw my way. More importantly, if the worst insult you can give is a lame comment on my looks, I think I'm doing pretty well.
I built up an incredible amount of confidence.
I was completely oblivious during my entire ugly phase. Sure, all my friends were dating guys and losing their virginities. But I knew that that wasn't happening to me simply because guys were intimidated by me.
In fact, I still remember the day -- years after my mullet had grown out and my braces had come off -- when my friends informed that I had been, in fact, very ugly. We were looking through prom pictures when I exclaimed, “Oof! This one was rough for me.”
My friends burst out laughing. “Candice, that's what you looked like,” they said.
In that moment, I realized that I'm a bigger baller than I'd ever thought. Even for the most beautiful girls in the world, high school is one of the most insecure times. I was not one of these girls, and I still managed to make the most of those four years.
I have wholly accepted myself.
I had a friend in high school who always wanted to give me a makeover. As you read above, I was pretty confident, so I wondered why she felt the need to do this.
But what I remember more distinctly is that I felt bad for this girl. Sure, I wasn't perfect. But I liked myself the way I was. She genuinely thought a change in appearance could make a person happier, and that made me feel sad for her.
For better or worse, I am all I've got. Sure, I don't have braces or headgear or a mullet anymore. But there are still days I don't feel flawless.
My eyebrows are sometimes in desperate need of a waxing. I might have a giant zit, or my hair could not be working for me that day. But I know that none of that stuff changes who I am. And I decided a long time ago that I like who I am.
I learned that it's actually amazing to be different.
When you're growing up, all you want to do is be the same as everyone else. I wasn't the same.
I was weird and not at all cute, but I still had a great time. I loved life, and I loved myself. Being different made me a better person. It made me who I am today.