I think that soon, I’ll be hitting a milestone in my 20s I’ve been avoiding.
I’m seriously thinking of taking out my nose ring.
It’s not that I haven’t thought about it before. I initially only thought I would have a nose ring for six months. Then a year. Then only until I got my first internship. No, when I turned 21. When I graduated from college. When I got my first real job.
I hit all those milestones, and my nose ring was with me for each one.
But I should back up and explain how I even ended up with a pierced nose. I had just graduated from high school, where I spent four years getting straight A’s and staying away from boys and booze. I was the perfect teenager.
So, I went to college wanting to rebel. And everywhere I looked, there were pierced noses. And damnit, they looked cool.
At winter break, I approached the topic to my mother. “What would you think of a pierced nose?” “No.”
I tried the “But everyone’s doing it” card. No such luck. My mother insisted that I should not get a nose ring.
So, the months of freshman year ticked away, and more and more girls had little studs in their noses.
Then, finally, on my 19th birthday in April, I dragged one of my best friends to the local piercing shop. I was going to do it.
$90 later, I was sitting in a room, where an older woman covered in tattoos and piercings was about to do it. With one quick pinch in my nose, she was going to set me free from my boring cardigans and straight A’s.
And then the tears came. And the swelling. And the blood. And making my friends check my nose every five minutes to see if it was infected.
But still, I looked in that mirror and thought I never looked cooler with my small, green stud in my right nostril.
And walking out of that Ithaca piercing store, the first person I called was my mother. Without a hello, without a how are you, I told her, “I pierced my nose.”
She didn’t yell. She didn’t cry. She just laughed at me.
But when I went home for the holidays, I would always have to listen to my older relatives tell me how my nose ring was going to ruin my life. No one, they told me, would hire someone stupid enough to put a hole in her face. Everyone would take one look at me, they said, and think that I was a joke.
And truth be told, I wasn’t sure what statement I was trying to make with my nose ring. If I’m going to be honest, my nose ring has caused me more stress than fun. It’s been caught on so many sweaters. It oozes whenever I have a cold (disgusting, I know). And one of the only reasons I haven’t taken it out yet is because my mother has scared me into thinking I’ll have a gaping hole in my right nostril for the rest of my life.
But when should it be time? At what age — at what milestone — is it time to say enough is enough. When is it time to leave the last bit of a (yes, maybe wanna-be) rebellious youth behind and grow up?