Learning to take the shots
I've always hated hills. Not the hills themselves, but the process of climbing them, biking them, ascending them in general. I've never been athletic, and my favorite food was anything with chocolate. So these hills that surrounded me on all sides in West Linn were a source of unending pain. Putting one foot in front of the other was agony, and many a tantrum was thrown over climbing hills.
After one too many meltdowns on our particularly large neighborhood hill, my mom had had enough. She kneeled down, looked me in my still-bawling eyes, and she told me something that I will take with me for the rest of my life.
"Kaleigh," she said. "I know it hurts. Anything worth doing in life is going to be hard work. You take the pain because the end result is good for you. It's just like a shot."
I knew all about shots. I hated them, but because of them, I didn't get sick. "A shot," I repeated, nodding. I was suddenly determined to conquer that hill, and within minutes I was at my front door.
From then on, whenever my mom and I walked, every hill was suddenly a shot. An instant-health shot, a thin body shot, a beautiful legs shot. I lost a lot of weight and gained a lot of strength. I felt beautiful and strong, and tougher than nails for enduring all that pain.
At the dinner table, when I left my broccoli, peas, and carrots on the plate, the veggies became shots as well. "They're yucky, but they're good for you," said Mom. "Plug your nose and take your shots." I did. I took those slimy carrot shots, stinky broccoli shots, and mushy pea shots, and I polished off my plate.
As I got older and more mature, more shots came into my life. Doing homework was now a good grade shot. Being nice to my annoying brother was a good person shot. Waking up at six o'clock in the morning to study for my AP classes was a well-managed time shot. Everything and anything that was annoying, difficult, or downright painful became a shot to being a better member of society. Slowly but surely, I got my adulthood vaccinations.
This "shots" metaphor has totally changed my way of looking at the world. I use it to force myself into doing unpleasant but necessary things, things that will make or break my life as an adult. I set myself vaccination appointments at specific times, and I take my shots. I protect myself from the diseases of bad habits and worse consequences.
Whenever I need to do something I really don't want to do, I find my mantra. "Shots, shots, shots, shots," I repeat under my breath as I work on whatever it is. I probably would sound like an annoying drunk frat boy to anyone who might listen in on me. But I get the thing done in the end.
When I take my shots, my to-dos get done, my battles get won, and my failures become a chance to try again. I will be taking my shots until the day I die.
Because anything worth doing in life is going to be hard work. You take the pain because the end result is good for you. It's just like a shot.
Kaleigh Henderson is a senior at West Linn High School.
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