“Woe is Me”: A Waste of Energy

“You don’t get any points in life for doing things the hard way.” -Tim Fargo

I went to the dentist on Thursday for my six month teeth cleaning (which, for the record, I go to every six months).  Other than running late, as per usual when it comes to appointments, I was in a pretty good, stress-free mood.  Dental appointments don’t bother me as much as they do some people.  This time was different.  This time my dentist took away all of the nice feelings I ever had about dentists and told me I needed nine fillings (karma for all the late appointment arrivals? perhaps).

In good news, this is a memorable shock to help me towards self-improvement.  I am at least confident that the next time I run out of floss, my solution will not be stop flossing, it will be buy more floss.  The bad news?  Even with dental insurance, this was going to run me $1,200 (that $2.99 floss is looking like an absolute steal right about now).   

One of the things I’ve been working on recently is to not let my emotions rule me so much.  I wavered pretty badly with this goal the moment I walked out with that quote in hand.  I immediately called my mom, fully prepared to whine about what terrible news this was.  She didn’t answer, so three minutes later I called again because in my mind I really needed to [expletive] about my misfortunes in that moment.  Again, she didn’t answer.  Thank God she didn’t answer; it gave me the ten minutes I needed to calm down on my own, without any outside influence.*

While I was driving down 400, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I could frame the situation in a not-so-negative light.  It’s not like I don’t have the money to get the dental work done.  In fact, this was a good opportunity to be grateful for the fact that I am one of the fortunate ones in this world who (barring some expensive medical catastrophe) can pay for any health issue that comes along without having to take out loans or worry about my financial well being.  I am a big proponent of the idea that you only get one body (at least to my knowledge), so any cost to maintain and keep it healthy is well worth the investment.  So, I decided to suck it up and let it be a lesson to take good care of my teeth in the future.  When my mom eventually called back and I filled her in on the morning’s events, it was something to the effect of “Unfortunate morning, but ehh, whatever.  Could be worse.”

Later that day, I went to lunch with a friend and told him about my impending fillings.  To which he said, “$1,200?  That’s like… two nice vacations.”  This instantaneously reframed yet again how I was approaching the situation.  All I needed was for someone to put the money in perspective of losing something that is undoubtedly my favorite thing in the world to give me a little motivation to look for a better solution.  So I resolved to come up with some way in which I could get this dental work done without spending the insane amount of money that I was quoted.

A coworker came up with the idea that I could wait until I go back to school in the fall and have the work done at the dental school on campus.  Awesome idea, but I didn’t particularly want to wait that long.  Later that day, my mom suggested that I look for a dentist who is in my insurance network (I have been going to the same dentist since I was teeny, so I had been fine with sucking up the extra money for out-of-network teeth cleanings).  So I did a little investigating on Aetna’s website, found an in-network dentist with great reviews who is located right by my apartment, and gave him a call.  Long story short, he was able to schedule me for 9 am the next morning (arrival time – 9:01… not too shabby), told me he thinks I only need seven fillings, and gave me a quote for $200 out-of-pocket cost!  With some suggestions from others, a little bit of research, and an open-minded approach, I was able to save myself $1,000.

Challenges and bad news make up a significant portion of life.  It takes some time and conscious effort to get to the point where it’s possible, but it was so freeing to be able to take the energy I would have used in the past on feeling bad for myself and divert it to seeking out a better situation.  So here’s a step-by-step guide for the next time you encounter a challenge or problem that seems overwhelming:

1. Ask yourself “Is this going to significantly alter the course of my life for the worse?“.  As in, are you going to remember this day as an important life change 15 years from now?  If the answer is yes, ignore 2-4 and find someone who is wiser than I am to advise you.

2. Assuming the answer is no, breathe.  Let it really sink in that in the grand scheme of things, this problem is not going to make or break you.

3. Decide that you want the best for yourself and take some time to figure out what an optimal outcome would be.  Note the word “an” here instead of “the”.  Don’t waste too much time obsessing over finding the perfect solution; Just focus on seeking out something that will make you better off.  (Disclaimer: Without screwing anyone else over).

4.  Figure out how to achieve that outcome.  Seek out other people who have experienced the same challenge and ask their advice.  Utilize all of your resources.  Keep an open mind.

You don’t get any points for eliciting pity or dwelling in negativity.  You get points for solving the problem.

*I swear I have friends besides my mom, but this was at 10 am so they were all at work.

What I’m Grateful for this Week


1. Pho** (if you haven’t tried it, do yourself a favor and go this week)

2. Tacos and Sangria**

3. A long Tuesday night phone call and a weekend trip to Athens to catch up with two lovely friends (five year throwback featured to the right)

4. Barre class

5. Sweetwater**

**And some awesome friends to drink and dine with.

Stupid Things I Did This Week

1. Scratched the bumper of my recently purchased car while parking, thus disproving my theory that my inability to park on the right was due to my old car’s turning radius.  I will now admit to everyone, I am not an ambi-parker.  Or a great parker in general.  Also, I would like to formally apologize to Terrence the Taurus for blaming him for my bad driving since I was 16.


One thought on ““Woe is Me”: A Waste of Energy

  1. Love your blog! Particularly like how you applied, and educated others, of the art of re-framing thoughts so as to help with the emotional and consequent behavioral response. Good cognitive behavioral therapy application!

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