Every new year holds the promise of progress and adventure, and between taking on a new internship, consuming colossal milkshakes, dabbling with goat yoga and surviving a term as president of my sorority, I’d like to think I’ve taken full advantage of 2017. Yet, one challenge that I haven’t managed to conquer this year—or in any other year, for that matter—is taking shots.
The vaccination kind, that is.
As a 20-year-old junior in college, I am aware of how insignificant vaccinations are on the spectrum of medical procedures. People with diabetes have to prick their skin every day! I like to think I can handle a needle puncturing my flesh for merely a split second, especially if it means that I’m not going to develop some horrific, throat-swelling plague later on in life. But no matter how grown up I’m feeling as I walk into the doctor’s office and no matter how many times I remind myself how ridiculous I’m acting as I squeeze my mom’s hand until she risks losing all circulation, as soon as I feel the cool rubbing alcohol wipe across my arm, I scream.
The commotion is often enough to send multiple other nurses into the room double check that the initial nurse didn’t accidentally shoot my eye out (or to provide backup in the event that I’ve rebelled enough to accidentally shoot her eye out!). Honestly, it’s a miracle that I was even allowed to go to kindergarten, let alone halfway across the world—which, incidentally, is why I found myself in a travel clinic Friday afternoon with a lollipop in my mouth and a yellow fever vaccine sticking out of my bicep.
Of all the culturally-shocking experiences I will undergo six months from now when I’m studying abroad in Ghana, I’ve found that most of my travel anxieties have manifested themselves in health concerns. These include, but are not limited to, contracting weird stomach bugs and encountering bugs that give me malaria—reasonable apprehensions, yes, but hardly reasons to not give the experience a shot.
So, I pushed up my sleeve, braced myself for impact and managed to gain a new blog subscriber in the process—shoutout to my nurse, Kim, who undeniably earned the title of patient as she answered my million questions and didn’t completely judge me for shrieking in her office. You are swell, Kim, even though you might have almost stabbed me to death.
In addition to my adventure abroad, the year 2018 will accompany an array of other new experiences: My brother will graduate high school, and I’m taking a week-long bus trip through the south during spring break, starting my senior year of college, winning the lottery and hopefully becoming the next Guy Fieri.
(Okay, so the last two are a stretch—but, hey! The new year is all about wishful thinking.)
As I anticipate these undertakings, part of me wants to dive headfirst into the resolution-making frenzy, while the other part of me wants to scream as I brace myself for any not-so-exciting changes that enter my life this year. But let’s be honest: There are usually more lollipops than there are flesh-puncturing needles (both metaphorically and literally). Even when a challenge leaves me wanting to run away, I’m going to give it a shot— the result will probably be pretty sweet.
In 2018, I also urge you to give it a shot (whatever it might be).
If you’re like my friend Erica, it might be more like a them as she spends the year conquering a new challenge each month, from veganism to minimalism. (You should follow along through her blog and vlog!) If you’re like me, it might mean choosing to say “no” to unnecessary responsibilities that you aren’t enthusiastically saying “yes” to (which, because I’ve met very few activities that don’t sound exciting, might be a challenging resolution to maintain).
Trying something outside of your comfort zone—whether you’re being stabbed in the arm or going to the gym (is there even a difference?)—can make you want to scream, even when it’s a task that will eventually lead to a more rewarding experience. But no matter how grown up you feel as you scoff at New Year’s resolutions and no matter how many times you remind yourself how ridiculous you’re acting as you waste opportunities the year brings, as soon as you realize you decided to try something that potentially changed your life, you’ll be thankful you decided to give it a shot.
Travel? Give it a shot. New job? Give it a shot. Actually eating healthy and getting a reasonable amount of sleep while still getting good grades and staying involved and having time to interact with other humans every once in a while? Give it a shot— you can always reward yourself with a lollipop, even if nothing goes according to plan.
Happy New Year, everyone! Now put down your phone and go to the gym.