If you were to grade me on my adulting capabilities, I’m fairly confident I’d receive a solid C average. For instance, I always pay my bills on time. But I’ve also been ignoring my leaking dishwasher for three weeks and can never seem to eat the avocados in my kitchen before they go bad. Mostly because they’re avocados and, as such, taste like avocados. I pretty much just buy them so when other adults come over to my house, they look at the avocados and think “wow, she has avocados, she must really have her life together.”
And then there’s the whole dentist thing. Rumor has it that as an adult you’re supposed to go to the dentist on a fairly regular basis. Fairly regular basis, of course, meaning “at some point.”
Oh, so when’s the last time I went to the dentist, you ask? Well, that depends. Do you want the answer I tell the dentist, the one I tell my mom, or the truth? Either way, the answer is always wrong.
I know this. I am an adult, afterall. I have the I.D. to prove it and everything. That’s another aspect of adulting I’ve mastered. I always renew my driver’s license on time. On time, of course, meaning “within six months after it expires.”
So, yeah, I’d been meaning to make a dentist appointment. It’s just life got in the way, as it so often does. There was work and then I had kids and then there was all the time and energy I had to spend on ignoring my dishwasher.
Also I was scared. Super scared. Just a Scaredy McScarepants.
Not for any good reason, mind you. Dentists don’t deserve their reputation. They are kind and hardworking people. They are highly-trained professionals. They provide an invaluable service to society. Think about the last time you had a toothache. How awful it was. Most of us would run over our own mothers just to get to a dentist to make that pain stop.
And there are plenty of people who have far more evil occupations. Serial killers, for one. Investment bankers. Those people who keep calling me from my alma mater asking me for money.
Why do we hate going to the dentist so much? Well, for one, you never leave there with good news. And if you have ever left the dentist with good news, if your dentist has ever told “wow, great job, your mouth is perfect,” then what are you doing even reading this? You clearly are a responsible, respectable member of society and are not my target audience. How about you go floss some more, nerd.
As for the rest of us, there’s a root canal or lengthy flossing tutorial or partial jaw removal in our immediate future.
Besides, I’m one of those people who just assumed that if I brushed twice a day, used mouth wash, and randomly remembered to floss every few weeks, everything would be fine. Teeth are one of those things, like cars and dishwashers and trendy vegetables, that I expect to last forever and ever until the end of time without any interference from me.
But you know what’s coming next, don’t you? Of course you do. Because no one just wakes up one day magically wiser and goes “ok, I’ll finally do that awful thing I’ve been putting off for far too long.” Oh no. No, something FORCES you to do that.
In my case, I woke up with mysteriously painful and swollen gums. So, like the C average adult that I am, I walked around and complained about the pain for a week. And then I screwed up my courage and finally made a dentist appointment.
More importantly, I actually showed up to the appointment. Where I was politely shamed about my dental history. That’s the other reason why we hate going to the dentist. They’re always disappointed in us. Don’t get me wrong. He was very pleasant and kind about it. But I knew I let him down.
Imagine how upset he’d be if I actually told the truth about the date of my last dental appointment.
But the bigger lesson here is that whatever it is you’ve been putting off, whatever it is that’s been on your undone to-to list for months or years, it’s never as bad as you imagine.
I’m kidding. It was exactly as bad as I imagined. Possibly worse.
But I survived.
And you’ll survive whatever your metaphorical dentist is too. Even if it is the actual dentist.