Be a Contradiction: How Visiting the Dentist Changed How I Think

Recently I had a dentist appointment to get a couple of cavities filled and an old filling replaced. Luckily we’ve found a really great English-speaking dentist here in Berlin. But he insisted on doing the cavities without Novocaine. I told him my previous dentist in Freiburg tried to fill a small cavity of mine a few years ago without Novocaine, and how it hurt like hell. But he persisted.

I told him I don’t do well with pain, and that I’m a crier. He said to me, “No, you seem like a strong woman.” As I finally relented, while tears streamed down my cheeks, and let him give it a try without the drugs, I thought to myself, why can’t I be a contradiction and be both? Why can’t I be a strong woman who also happens to cry at the drop of a hat?

We can be both. You can be two seemingly contradictory things.

I am strong

I am a woman who is strong enough to leave behind everything she knows to move across an ocean and start a new life in Germany. For eight months, I studied and struggled to learn (some) German, and at the end of it, I passed my exam and walked away with my B1 certificate.

be a contradiction
Freiburg, Germany

I am strong enough to handle being hospitalized (several times) for my ulcerative colitis issues. I’m also strong enough to not let this disease stop me from living my life.

I traveled around the world mostly by myself for five months…after I got married. And I still take solo trips despite having a husband.

be a contradiction
Exploring Kosovo by myself

Over time, I’ve become strong enough to ride the ups and downs of working for myself. Now I’m trying to be brave enough to show you more about how I make a living and how much I earn from blogging. It’s scary sharing those kinds of personal details. But I’m doing it anyway.

I’m emotional, too

And who cares if I also cry every time I watch Under the Tuscan Sun or Zootopia or The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? And yeah, crying is my natural reaction to just about any strong emotion: anger, frustration, stress, the blender getting clogged while I’m making my morning smoothie. (OK, I don’t cry at that last one, but I do irrationally yell at the blender sometimes.)

I can be the emotional person, too. Even if it’s in complete contrast to the strong person who moved to Germany and traveled the world.

So I’m trying to remind myself that I am actually a strong woman, even if I cry easily. That the contradictions are part of what make me, me. That I can be both.

be a contradiction
Cortona, Italy – setting of Under the Tuscan Sun

Not letting the past dictate the future

As the dentist began to work on the first tooth, I felt the small vibrations of his tools, but surprisingly no pain. He made it through both small fillings plus replacing the old one without causing me any pain.

When I told him how surprised I was by this, he said how people often think past experience will dictate what happens in the present and future. But that doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because I had a painful experience before does not mean I will have another one now, even if the circumstances appear to be similar.

I think I live my whole life that way, thinking that history will repeat itself. It’s really hard to break out of that way of thinking. Especially since we’re also told that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is a sign of insanity. I mean, if it hurt in the past, why wouldn’t I expect it to hurt again now?

So I’m trying to embrace new things and let go of the old. If I’m a strong, brave person, I can also push myself to walk away from past experiences and thoughts that hold me back. And I can be a contradiction.

Are you a walking contradiction? Do you let bad experiences from your past hold you back?

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be a contradiction
be a contradiction