Old people are wise. We should totally be listening to them. You know how they say haste makes waste? Well, for me, haste made a busted lip, a swollen face, four broken teeth (with one of them almost permanently lost), and a bruised tongue (and ego, to boot). I’ve had to eat mostly soup and other non-solids for several days and have been having trouble sleeping because of the pain.
The problem was indeed a bit of haste, but the essence of my problem was my propensity to not prioritize. If I didn’t realize it before, the need to correct this problem of mine has surely now been knocked into my head, literally. And I have a mirror reflecting my mistakes to serve as a daily, unforgiving reminder.
It was like any other day, really--well, any day in which you have an assignment due, and you wait until forever to do it, and then pull an all-nighter, and then try to go to school without eating or drinking. This combination of sleep deprivation and hastily trying to catch a bus to head to my university led me to unconsciousness and a trip to the emergency room.
One second, I'm standing still at my bus stop catching my breath and feeling faint; the next, I open my eyes and my body is lying in the middle of the street with my face planted squarely on pavement. Blood is spewing from my mouth and I’m completely disoriented.
Since I blacked out, I had no idea where I was or what happened to me in the five seconds after I opened my eyes. Because I’m lying in a typically busy street, I briefly thought I had been hit by a car--at least the throbbing pain in my mouth and piercing headache leads me to believe it. As I look around searching for anything that could explain my circumstances, an older woman approaches me and guides me safely to the sidewalk where I stood just moments earlier.
As I gain my bearings I realize the extent of my predicament: My lower teeth, seemingly broken, are cutting into my tongue; one of my front teeth is knocked out completely; my other front tooth is hanging on for dear life, allowing me momentarily to reminisce about the hopeful anticipation that usually came with that sort of sensation. Instead of a tooth fairy, though, I am greeted with the kindness of strangers.
It’s bad enough to be away from home and in a foreign country without close friends and family. But when asked if there is anyone I could call and having to mutter out a solemn “no” in between winces of pain brings its own set of isolation.
Yet I was fortunate to have had some help from a few Dutch natives. One was practically angelic: this older woman who guided me to the sidewalk and stayed by my side until the ambulance came, delegating tasks to others around us and retrieving my lost articles, including my missing tooth. “Sir do you have something she could drink for hydration?” “Hey, could you call the ambulance?” At least that’s my interpretation since I don’t speak a lick of Dutch. But everyone’s corresponding behavior gives her words sufficient context.
A gentleman who also stayed with me was glued to his phone giving information to an emergency operator. By the time a bus stopped in front of me, I’d had enough time to think beyond the urgent, beyond my survival. I then started to feel pangs of embarrassment. How ridiculous am I? Kneeling down on this sidewalk all bloodied and toothless. And for no reason at all! I slowly started to reflect on my choices and realized I have to change.
Not too long after, I heard sirens approaching. Once the paramedics parked and pulled a stretcher out, I became more conscious of the severity of my health. They lifted me onto the stretcher and I enthusiastically thanked the good Samaritans who helped me. I don’t know how to thank them enough for taking that much time out of their day to do something kind for a total stranger. I had to stifle tears as the paramedics closed the door and I waved them goodbye through the back window; that was an intense 10 or 15 minutes to share with people only to realize you may never cross paths again.
I clutched my wayward tooth along the ride to the hospital, hoping the damage isn’t as bad as I think it is. Upon our arrival to the emergency room, and at the earliest opportunity to secure a reflection, I saw that it’s much worse. My face is unrecognizable. Being an xoVainer, of course, one of my first thought was how I am going to continue writing for a beauty site when my looks are solidly on “beast” mode. I had a few more pressing issues at hand, though.
The diagnosis was low blood sugar--I was running on empty. With a face plant that cracked open my gums and lips, a tetanus shot was in order. After a dentist reattached my tooth and gave me her instructions on what I should be doing the next few weeks, I at least feel some hope. Moreover, this all could have turned out much, much worse.
One thing I learned from that surreal day was that, along with shifting how I live my life, I have to appreciate what life offers, even in the midst of setbacks. I am so thankful for those two people helping me at the bus stop. I am thankful that, despite landing in the middle of the street, I fainted when there was little to no traffic. What if there was oncoming traffic when I fell unconscious? I’m thankful my injuries are fairly temporary, as, though costly, cosmetic dentistry can resolve the hideous gaps in my mouth.
In all, I am grateful to still be alive. That was a truly frightening moment and yet another reminder that life is fragile. Anything can happen from one moment to the next, and one misstep—an oncoming car, unsympathetic passers by, a fall that could have cracked my skull instead of merely my mouth—could have led me to an even more unwelcome fate, so I have to absolutely take better care of the things in my control.
And because I like to see the other upsides in life, that terrible, terrible day has forced me to change my beauty routine.
There’s a lot goin’ on in the bottom half of my face, so I’ve been hiding my mouth until the swelling subsides by wearing scarves. Now my smize game is on point. And I’m paying more attention to my brows. So, hey, why not use this fiasco to improve my eyebrow styling, and help you ladies, too?
I’ve provided a guideline of my brow-styling routine (Can brow styling be a thing? Browscaping?), which has been perfected since my nasty fall. My everyday brow look is understated. I’m not yet stellar with my brows, but I’ve got the basics down. I typically thread them, but I don’t trust any threader outside of Harlem, so I’m going bushy this winter.
These tricks are especially helpful for when, like myself, you don’t have your brows arched but want them to appear clean.
You’ll need: concealer, an eyebrow brush or spoolie, a pencil brush, an angled brush, brow or eyeshadow powder, and facial tissues or paper towels. I also use a water/glycerine mix, but this is optional.
First, I brush my brows diagonally. Then I apply the foundation or concealer I use for my entire face.
Next, grab your pencil brush.
With the pencil brush, I apply concealer from the area of my eyebrow closest to the nose bridge going back towards the ear. I’ll call this area of the brow the “head” and the slim part the “tail.” Because my brows aren’t shaped, I’m creating the shape I want with the concealer.
I start first with a narrow line as if I’m creating an outline under the brow. I then reapply the pencil brush on its flat side to blend.
I repeat on the top, but I make a slightly more narrow line of concealer
I’m ready to start filling in my brows with the angled brush.
First, I ensure that my angled brush is a sharp as possible. If it isn’t, I take a tiny dab of my glycerin-water mix and use it to pinch the bristles together.
I lightly dip the narrow part of the brush, and not its flat side, in the eyebrow powder. I prefer powder over an eyebrow pencil because the effect looks less stark and more natural on my brows.
I lightly start outlining the bottom of my brow a little behind the base and continue to the tail. I don’t want the head to be too dark so I don’t apply powder directly there.
I then brush up from the bottom outline, filling in the brow.
I apply concealer again with the broad edge of the pencil brush to define the bottom and top of the brow and use my finger tip to blend.
For everyday wear, I usually end here and continue with my eye makeup.
For nights out, I highlight with eye shadow to make the arch a little more dramatic.