Next Year I Won’t Be Afraid of the Needle

by Kat Holleran

When I was younger, I always thought “next year” would be different. Next year, I would become stronger, wiser, better. Each summer I’d spend the days leading up to my yearly physical wrought with fear of the injections I was scheduled to receive. In defense, as a way to calm down, I would remind myself that next year I wouldn’t be scared. Next year, when I was 7, 9, 10, 13, 16, I would take that shot like a champ. I’d walk into the doctor’s office and shout “stab me! I don’t care!”.

I’m 18 now, and still afraid of shots. Only now, I am plagued with more than simply the small needles to build up my immune system. Now, I am delaying my wisdom teeth removal appointment with the rationale that in two years I’ll be tougher and can handle having my gums cut open. I am putting off getting my bunions removed because I’d rather not be stabbed by a needle that will put me into a temporary coma, despite knowing I eventually will get the surgery. When I had a lump in my breast, doctors said I “could” have it removed, I said I’d rather just keep it, that I’d have it taken out later. Because later, the needles wouldn’t hurt me as bad.

The issue with this thinking is that it doesn’t work. It just isn’t true: I won’t be stronger tomorrow, next week, or next year. Despite my personal conviction, I won’t be better equipped to write the essay “later” – especially when later becomes the night before it’s due.

What is interesting, and equally frustrating, is that I can’t shake the procrastination. I know it doesn’t work, so why not be proactive? Perhaps it’s a falsified hope and confidence in future-me. Probably, it is due to self doubt in the present-me: I CAN’T do it now! I’m not strong enough yet, not a good enough writer yet, not resilient enough yet. Each time, I fail to realize that ‘future-me’ is just a bunch of ‘now-me’s later. And if every now-me is telling myself I’m not “_____” enough yet, then why do I expect future-me to be different?

The answer is probably just because it’s easier that way. It takes some stress off. Conceitedly, I care more about now me than I do about future me. Adversely, I have arrogant opinions about future-me and my future abilities.

me: seriously? a seven page paper due tomorrow, a doctors appointment today, and babysitting tonight?

two-weeks-ago-me: sorry… I thought you’d be able to handle it. we will laugh about it later cuz future-us has a really good sense of humor lol

me: I hate you.