This I Believe : Cynthia Jones

This I believe—being able to love someone else comes as you learn to love yourself and embrace all the things that make you exactly who you are. Growing up, I never thought of myself as beautiful. For one thing, I have what you call the “Jones signature gap”, a family heirloom in the middle of my teeth, passed down from my mother. If you look at family photos taken every couple years since I was little, you’ll notice a common theme. I never smiled with my teeth showing. Ever since I can remember I’ve hated my teeth. Although I loved singing, I wouldn’t sing because I didn’t want people to see my gap. I wouldn’t laugh without covering my mouth. I wouldn’t even talk so much. Everything in society told me it was ugly. As regular visits to the dentist would never fail to remind me, it was a cosmetic issue that could to be ‘fixed’. Freshman year, I became consumed with trying to fit into this idea I had of beauty.  Following in the footsteps of my sister, I began counting calories, drinking nonfat, splenda starbucks lattes, and working out at a gym. I compared myself to anyone and everyone. Without even knowing how I had got there or what was really happening I found myself going down a slippery slope of constant dissatisfaction in who I was, until it finally resulted in bulimia. In a desperate effort to find who I was, I lost myself in the process. I stopped searching for myself and instead searched for how I could fit into the mold of what everyone else was, because, I didn’t like who I was. This was three years ago when I became so caught up in what I was not, who I was not, that it became impossible to think of anyone else, to love anyone else. I even lost sight of one of the things I want most in life—which is to be someone my little sisters can look up to. In trying to become that person for them, I learned to appreciate myself. I focused on being Cynthia and loving Cynthia. Today, I love the gap in my teeth because it makes me—me. These small insecurities should never stop me from loving the people I love most. I can never really love or believe in my sisters or in anyone, if I don’t first learn to love and believe in myself. I can’t give what I don’t have. This I believe, being able to love someone else comes as you learn to love yourself and embrace all the things that make you exactly who you are.