Forgive me, this blog post might be a bit scattered and may include a few sidetones.
A quote I have grown quite fond of lately: A bad attitude is like a flat tire-- you can't get anywhere unless you change it.
I had a hard time with my attitude this week. Sometimes, lots of little unfortunate things stack up and then we end up much more stressed and frustrated than we'd normally be. Something I have learned over the years is that getting mad takes a great amount of energy and often, we're left feeling exhausted over something we don't even care about a week later.
The other day on my way to work, my car battery died. I got my car back up and running within forty minutes, but by then, I was also huffy and puffy about being late. (Sidenote: I hate being late for anything.) On my way to work, my car battery died yet again… in the middle of one of the busiest roads. Still huffy and puffy… I called my boyfriend to come help me jump my car.
(SIDENOTE: ALWAYS KEEP JUMPER CABLES IN YOUR CAR.)
Once I finally got to work, it took me a while to get back into my routine. I was flustered after waiting on the side of the road. I was also probably over-prioritizing my work load.
The following day, I volunteered myself to drive across town and deliver Papersalt books to a mom-blogger. First things first, I got a new battery installed into my car to avoid any more delays or road-blocks. Just a couple miles away from where I was headed, I got rear-ended while stopped at a red light.
My hands started shaking. I wasn't hurt. I was surprised, scared and angry. Great. Just what I needed. Another car accident and two hours taken out of my day to file a police report. I pulled into the gas station just ahead of the light. When I'm angry, I have a habit of assuming negative intent so I thought the person who hit me just might drive off instead.
Luckily, the female driver pulled into the gas station behind me. My initial reaction was anger. I was locked into that reaction. People in car accidents often like to argue over who's at fault. We bickered back and forth for a few minutes before I snapped and said, "FINE. Let's just call the police and file a report the right way."
(SIDENOTE: WHEN IN A CAR ACCIDENT, ALMOST ALWAYS CALL THE POLICE TO REPORT THE ACCIDENT RIGHT AWAY.)
I paused for a moment. Looked at the woman's car and then back at my car. There wasn't a single scratch on either car. Both of us were okay. After a long work day and another hour of annoying traffic, I decided to step outside of myself and ask myself what I was really angry about. Yes, you are expected to be angry about a car accident. No one is ever ecstatic about getting rear-ended. Just as the woman was writing down her insurance information for me, I decided to not make my day and hers any worse. We were clearly both on edge.
"Look, no one got hurt. Let's exchange info just in case, but I don't even see any evidence on either of our cars that you rear-ended me. You didn't hit me very hard. There's a tiny scratch on my bumper, but my car isn't that nice to begin with. Lets be on our way."
"Are you sure?", she asked.
"I'm sure. Have a nice day. Hope you make it home okay."
AGAIN: ALMOST ALWAYS REPORT CAR ACCIDENTS AS SOON AS THEY HAPPEN. I know, I didn't follow the rules this time. I didn't want to make a big deal out of what seemed like nothing. This story isn't about car accidents. It's about when to get mad and when to shake it off and go on with your day.
So you're mad now. Are you going to be mad about this tomorrow? What about the next day? A week from now?
If you'll get over it by tomorrow, what's the use in tiring yourself out emotionally. Take a few deep breaths. Tomorrow is another day. Pick and choose your battles. Some are worth fighting, and some are easier to forgive and forget (as cliche as that sounds). People will always make you angry. You get to choose how affected you are by the words and actions of others. There are many factors of our day that we have little or no control over and sometimes, we need to stop to accept that.
I got in my car and drove off to deliver those Papersalt books. I was still a little shaken up but I felt better. I even ended up giving the woman a hug. You probably won't ever hug the person that rear-ends you, but she reached out so I accepted. Sadly, no heart-warming music played as we drove away. I went home that night, made myself a nice dinner and went to bed stress-free.
(Marina Orievsky studied Communication at the University of Washington where she put her focus on journalism and social media. She has worked with Revolution Inc. and Papersalt since January 2012, contributing blog material about life lessons and about her personal experiences with transitioning from teenage years to adulthood.)