What It’s Like To Get Your Ears Re-Pierced As A Scared Baby Adult

    When your ear holes close up, you have to take action.

    Let's talk about ear holes.

    Not the kind you hear out of, but the man-made kind. The ones you put earrings in. I guess they're technically called "piercings," but I prefer the term "ear holes."

    You see, I'm an adult with pierced ears, but over the years, my ear holes closed up. Recently I got a really cool new pair of tiny gold earrings and tried to stick them in my ears, and they just wouldn't go through. I was like, oh crap, now I have an ear hole situation I have to deal with. Great. What do you do when you're a grown adult who needs her ears pierced, something usually reserved for children and babies? Everyone I asked responded, "I don't know…GO TO CLAIRE'S???"

    I did go to Claire's, the first time. My mom said I could get my ears pierced when I turned 12. I was excited...until my 12th birthday, when the fear set in. Would it hurt? They shoot your ear with a GUN? No thank you. I developed a "Who needs earrings?" attitude. Who says the look of a cool, clean earlobe isn't chic on its own?

    I waited until I was 18 to face the ear gun. Terrified, I went to the mall and walked into Claire's. A place where you can buy alien keychains didn't feel like a space where something vaguely medical should be going down, but it's what everyone did.

    The ear piercing lady marked my ears to show me where the earrings would go. Did they look right? I wasn't sure. They seemed a little off, but I was no expert. I was too scared to say anything, so I just let it happen. I was already self-conscious about my earlobes. They're "attached." And for some reason I felt like "unattached" earlobes just seemed more elegant, more classic. Going through life without classic earlobes was an incredible burden.

    I was left wondering if my ears were pierced in the wrong place. That notion was confirmed the day my slightly edgier friend dragged me to the kiosk in the mall where all the cool, marijuana-smoking kids got their piercings. (Not Claire's.) I was there for a second ear piercing, something my mom had forbidden.

    The hip, cool ear piercing lady took one look at my ears. "Who did your first piercings?" she asked with disgust. They WERE in the wrong place, according to this super-cool ear piercing lady. But I accepted this hard truth and moved on with my life. Until last month.

    I hadn't worn earrings for eight months. That doesn't seem like long enough for ear piercings to close up. But the last time I'd worn earrings, I'd shoved some cheap earrings in there. They didn't QUITE go through all the way, so I shoved them harder, like Leighton Meester in The Roommate. (She dramatically pierces her own ear with an earring.) And you know what? That's how you get an infection. I took the cheap earrings out, and that's when the holes closed. My precious ear holes! The ones I was so nervous to get in the first place.

    I wanted them back.

    I googled ear piercing places and discovered that, Claire's aside, there are actual "medical" places where you can get your ears pierced by a registered nurse.

    The frightened 12-year-old in me loved this. But I also felt pathetic. Most of the Yelp reviews said things like, "My baby had a great time." This was for babies.

    Still, I booked an appointment and watched a promotional video for the medical ear piercing experience. "For an 8-year-old, this is an exciting day," the video said. "When a mother brings in her daughter, this is a moment that I hope they'll aways remember." OK, I get it. I'm an adult doing a baby thing. Even so, seeing the nurse put on latex gloves in the video made me nervous. So nervous that I requested numbing cream, something I'm pretty sure is legit meant for babies.

    I walked into a doctor's office–like setting that was filled with tiny children. The nurse took a look at my ears. "This one is pierced very close to your face," she said with concern. YES, I KNOW, I wanted to say. My ears are a laughingstock.


    "You don't really need numbing cream, do you?" the nurse asked, implying that numbing cream was indeed for bitty babies. I had to be brave.

    She also asked me if I wanted her to redo my second piercings. "The second piercing is very trendy right now," she said. I thought one hole per ear was enough; I was done being edgy. "You're young," she said. "You probably think it's passé. Let the women in their forties have that trend." Oh no. I hadn't meant to somehow insult women in their forties. If only I were an actual baby, this would never have happened. (It turns out my second piercings weren't even closed, as you can see above. I went home and shoved earrings in there too, to be on trend.)

    The nurse then told me that once your ears are pierced, they're usually pierced forever. The procedure I got was technically a "reopening," going through the scar tissue I created with my Leighton Meester moment. She took a sharp 18-karat-gold earring and carefully put it through my ear. It did involve a surprising amount of poking and prodding to get it through. Could I have done this myself? YEAH PROBABLY. But you can't put a price on having a medical professional talk to you in a gentle, soothing voice and tell you your ear holes are gonna be OK. Even if they're permanently in the wrong place.