I haven’t been an adult for very long so I don’t have a ton of experience on the matter, but I do have a theory about adulthood.
It doesn’t exist.
No, there’s no such thing as an adult. When you were a kid, everyone you thought of as a grownup was actually just a slightly taller person flailing around and making stuff up as they went, hoping no one would notice. This theory terrifies and comforts me at exactly the same time.
Now I’m one of those people, so to help me make stuff up, I’ve been referring to an Ideal Adult who exists only inside my head. She makes good, grownup choices so I try to follow her lead. What would the Ideal Adult in your head do? is something I ask myself a lot.
The Ideal Adult eats fruits and vegetables without making faces. The Ideal Adult is not afraid of the grocery store. The Ideal Adult does not laugh in disbelief every time someone accepts her credit card in exchange for actual things like food and shelter.
Most of the time I do pretty well at mimicking the Ideal Adult, although sometimes my serving of fruit comes in a juice box and paying bills still seems like an elaborate game of make-believe that has gone too far. But there’s one thing the Ideal Adult would do that I am having a really hard time with. The Ideal Adult sees her doctor regularly. Stephanie, on the other hand, has the WebMD app on her phone and thinks that’s probably good enough.
Reasons to See a Doctor Regularly
- For preemptive screenings
- To establish a baseline for your health
- To keep up with your vaccinations
- So you can fill in that blank on emergency contact forms with someone besides your mom
- So that when you finally cave and go see a doctor, you can avoid admitting that you haven’t been inside an exam room in, oh, eight years
- To expand your social circle. Mingle in the waiting room! Make friends with your nurses!
I recognize that those are good reasons to go. My adult brain understands this and 100% agrees that it is wise to go see a doctor sometimes. I just really, really, really, really, really really don’t want to.
Reasons I Don’t Want to Go to the Doctor
- It seems like a pain, what with the calling to make an appointment, and the forms, and the leaving the house.
- I don’t have a firm grasp on what my health insurance plan actually covers. It’s always a surprise!
- What if something actually is wrong with me and I didn’t know it?
- What if nothing is wrong with me, I just happen to have a weird-shaped skull, and someone points it out, and then I’m self-conscious about it for the rest of my life? Not that that’s happened to me.
- I’m 97% convinced that medicine is a real science.*
- I’m ashamed of my body. Not its shape, or even the occasionally horrifying things it does. I’m ashamed of just having a body.
- There has to be a reason home remedies exist. Swiping a mixture of honey and chili powder across my eyelids seems like it should do something, right?
- I feel ok, and I feel even better on the days when no one sticks a cold stethoscope down my shirt or a tongue depressor in my mouth.
*SUBLIST: WHY 3% OF ME THINKS DOCTORS MIGHT BE VERY GOOD CON ARTISTS
- I once went to the emergency room because my throat was swelling up in an exciting way that made breathing tricky. The doctor said, “I actually don’t know what’s wrong with you” before handing me an impossibly high bill and sending me on my way. This was especially baffling to me because both of my parents are veterinarians and they somehow manage to correctly diagnose and treat patients of multiple species who cannot talk or even point to where it hurts.
- One time I got a flu shot AND IT WAS A LIE.
Those are some pretty compelling reasons. So compelling that, were it not for the crushing guilt that I constantly feel over everything, I can absolutely see myself dying of a treatable disease at age 30 and telling everyone that it’s just my time.
But I started feeling so guilty about disappointing the Ideal Adult that I made an appointment and went to the doctor on Monday. I agonized over the visit for days. I gave myself a pep talk in the parking lot. “No one is having a worse day than I am,” I said to myself as I stomped into the office.
And when it was all over I was even more annoyed. “That only took 20 minutes?!” I thought. “The least they could have done was kept me in there for a half-hour.”
Hey wow the next trailer for Life and Steph is out! And it turns out I’m both a stress-eater and a stress-winker!