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I'm 18 years old and I have wrinkles

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Fine, go ahead and laugh, but I’m serious. I got out of the shower this morning and looked in the mirror, and there they were. Plain as day, a dimple line in each cheek.

 

Want to know something even weirder?

 

They made my morning.

 

You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.

 

You get wrinkles in the places that have been used the most, and the fact that I’m 18 years old and I already have smile lines says something about me that I want to listen to. It says this girl, she lives a life she’s not afraid to smile about. This girl, she knows how to love and laugh even when it hurts. This girl, she has etched joy into her life the way smile lines are etched deep in her cheeks and the corners of her eyes.


You see, those lines that have deepened and lined my eyes and heart, the lines that aren’t in my forehead or between my eyebrows from worry, but cheeks that are dimpled with peacethey tell me that even pain passes. They whisper that I’m still me – grief didn’t change me for good. Here I am, still laughing with a real laugh, not a fake one. My smile is just as genuine as it ever was.

 

Those creases tell me that I won. I won a battle against negativity and criticism and bitterness when all of those were viable options, and I chose to love and be loved instead. I chose to believe that we are more than a statistic, more than our stereotypes, more than the media, more than a Facebook status or a swear word. I chose apologies over accusations, forgiveness over grudges, freedom over shame. And little by little, those choices are setting me free, day by day, over and over.

 

And now I smile bigger than ever, knowing this truth: what you live by now is what will show in your face and your neck and your arms and your toes when you grow old.

 

And by the time I’m 28 and 58 and 78, I want my smile lines to be deeper than ever.