Based on the title you may think that this story is going to be an old one, something that happened to a 3-year-old child. Spoiler alert, it’s a present story about me, an almost 32-year-old woman! For as long as I can remember, cleaning my ears out with a Qtip has been part of my daily routine. It was so normal to me that out of all the years I’ve done it, I never once stopped to think about my actions and their potential consequences until an embarrassing incident happened a week ago. Using a Qtip per usual I cleaned out my ear, but when I pulled the Qtip out the tip of it was missing!
Panicked, I tried removing the tip myself and even used the video mode of my cellphone in attempts to see inside my ear. Helpless, I made an emergency visit to my doctor to take care of the ordeal. Thankfully everything is fine and the object was painlessly removed with care, but it wasn’t until this moment that I realized how silly I must have looked! The doctor proceeded to tell me that I should (obviously) never stick objects in my ear, and that my ear cleaning routine was “excessive” and totally unnecessary. Our ears don’t need regular cleaning! If you must, gently wipe the outside of the ear with a damp towel and only clean the inside if there’s wax buildup. Over the counter products are available to help, but they come in the form of drops not Qtips! How embarrassing!
Crisis averted, this experience was a major learning lesson for me. Why had I so carelessly been sticking objects in my ear? I then realized the act of cleaning my ears with Qtips was a learned one. It’s something I had grown up doing all of my life, without question, because I saw my family members doing so. As silly as it is for me to say now, I thought it was a normal part of hygiene and something that we all should do. With this lesson learned the hard way, I texted my brother immediately upon leaving the doctor’s office. “Yo! Stop cleaning your ears!”
This led me to think about how many other times I or society have blindly followed others? I say this not to put shame on my family, because they may have blindly followed their family members too! One could even argue that this Qtip behavior was hereditary! I know I know, that sounds silly but doesn’t it also sound familiar? When I was obese I would say things like “obesity and diabetes runs in my family”, or, “I’m just big boned… it runs in the family”, as if being an obese diabetic was my inevitable fate but look at me now! The size of my bones seem perfectly normal. While it’s true we share genetic traits that could make us more susceptible to certain ailments, I’d like to call BS on the whole “it runs in the family” thing! What runs in the family are the behaviors that we blindly learn from one another without question, and pass on through the generations. It’s no one’s fault; they may have not known any better! However, another outcome is not possible unless we stop, think, question and change our actions! Once we know better, we are and do better!
This lesson could be applied to so many other examples in our world, but I trust that you’ll learn from this story and/or use it as a wakeup call to something that is more applicable to your life. Let’s stop, think and challenge the status quo to save ourselves from unnecessary heartaches, and make progress in areas that truly matter. But if nothing else, let my story be a cautionary tale to you; if you’re currently cleaning your ears out with Qtips… stop!