In a blitz of mixed emotions this weekend, my roommates convinced me to get my ears pierced. If I’m being honest, it was inspired more than a little bit by the “Fourth year don’t care” mentality permeating every aspect of my life as I sit on the cusp of “growing up” – because let’s face it, I’m still dependent on my parents for more than just tax forms.
At this point, you’re probably thinking “Big deal; this chick joined the rest of the female population, and a sizable portion of the male population, in doing something insignificant that really won’t change her daily life. That’s not growing up.’” You’re probably right, but for me, getting my ears pierced was about change, risk and danger.
Let’s start from the beginning.
I never had my ears pierced before because I didn’t want to. I was a swimmer, and it seemed like too much maintenance.
I have an extreme aversion to pain, more so than your average person — as in it took three nurses to give me a shot up until I was a teenager. It’s cool, my pediatrician still loves me.
As a self-proclaimed hypochondriac, I worried about my ears getting infected afterward. The whole ordeal seemed like an unnecessary and risky commitment. And seriously, why put stuff in your ears that doesn’t belong there? The whole thing seemed barbaric yet frivolous.
Individually, each of these was enough for me to be hesitant. But combined, they were keeping me firmly rooted in the status quo.
One of my roommates, who remarkably also made it 22 years without piercing her ears, talked about it often. Eventually, I agreed that we would do it together. One of our other roommates who already pierced her ears wanted to add a second hole. For two weeks, ear piercing was the main topics of conversation in our apartment, with each day producing changes in our wavering levels of enthusiasm.
When I told my parents I was going to do it, my mom was surprised and said it seemed uncharacteristic. My dad laughed, recalling a time they took me to the mall to see someone else have their ears pierced, after which I promptly decided it wasn’t for me. I don’t remember the incident at all — apparently I blacked it out along with other unknown traumatizing memories.
I spent two weeks paying close attention to everyone’s ears and the objects adorning them. I noticed how much more put together everyone with earrings looks. The night before my date with destiny, I had nightmares and woke up apprehensive and almost ready to back out. Four hours later, I found myself in Claire’s debating which pair of earrings would be blasted through my ears.
After filling out paperwork and staring at the chair for a couple minutes, I sat down, holding hands with both my friends and a germ-infested, yet cleverly named, “Claire-Bear,” given to me to squeeze through the pain. I was ready, or so I thought until the woman came at my ear with a pen and I leaped out of my seat. I had flashbacks to hitting my dentist when he came toward my mouth with a needle, and though I was proud of my quick reflexes, I ultimately cried out of embarrassment.
As it turns out, the entire world wasn’t lying to me when they said it wouldn’t hurt. It stung a little, just as the fine woman said it would, but it wasn’t nearly the degree of pain I had anticipated. She described me afterward as “her most high maintenance client,” which must be a real achievement considering she’s been doing piercings for more than a year and must have encountered some real brats.
Whatevs. Can’t get me down. I’ve got a big hunk o’ fake diamond in each ear, and I’ve got great friends who listened to me contemplate the decision for two weeks and held my hand, literally and figuratively, through the process.
I was reminded that the anticipation is usually worse than the event itself. I realized something else, too, which I probably shouldn’t reveal here in such a public forum: The easiest way to get me to do something is to tell me I won’t.
Even now, I still have concerns. Am I cleaning them correctly? Why are there fake rocks in my ears? Do I look classy or like I’m rocking some ice, fresh off the streets?
I’ll let you know when I solve these and life’s other great mysteries.
Abbi’s column runs biweekly Wednesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.