I almost died last night.
Well, OK. Not almost-died, but I could’ve.
I was headed to a charity boxing match-up for my internship, about a 40 minute drive away from my school and I knew I was going to be late. As I approached an abundance of never ending traffic on the expressway, I turned up the old Paramore CD I had in my archaic car (as per lack of aux-cord-capabilities). A few minutes later, the Jeep in front of me stopped short and I slammed right into him.
The sweet-siren sounds of Hayley Williams accompanied by electric guitar and drum set were replaced with a nagging, ringing in my ears and the sound of my heart beating like it was going to fly out of my chest. Fight-or-flight instincts kicking in and regaining full awareness, I hopped out of my car and ran to that which was in front of me to ensure the driver was alright.
The man exited his vehicle just as he was upon his entrance, grateful that we were both alive and his car had minimal damage. Mine on the other hand, was completely totaled.
What you have to understand is, while I know that car accidents can in some ways be rights-of-passage, for someone who relies so heavily on her car, it’s a nightmare. While I am extremely grateful to be alive and very grateful the other driver is alive and well, I am left solving the puzzle as to how I’m going to make my one-hour-by-car commute to school, half-hour commute to my internship and drive to my part-time job. Add in a few trainings or seminars for school clubs on Long Island here and there and some sorority events and I’m left with quite the dilemma.
I have to say though, that in that moment while I was sitting on the shoulder of the Long Island Expressway with tears rolling down my cheeks, watching three lanes of backed up-traffic pass me and realizing that was me in my car just moments ago, I paused.
I was no longer thinking about the classes I skipped earlier due to my terrible cold or the amount of tissues that were scattered all over my car. I wasn’t thinking about the sorority chapter meeting I had to miss to cover this event. I wasn’t thinking about my finances or family issues or dirty closet or dirty car or International Relations reading or Race and Law Research Paper or going to the gym or losing weight or my break up. I was present.
For the first time in a long time, I was present. The world was still and below my feet. My head was on my shoulders and my heart was beating. I was alive.
The whole point of this blog post isn’t for me to whine about my 1st world problems or make you pity me if you do. The point is to show you that some times in life, you simply need to slow down.
While it was probably more convenient for me to come to this realization before totaling my car, maybe this was what I needed to realize that. Often times in life we get so caught up in our own self-caused anxieties that our actual real-world responsibilities seem tenfold grander than they actually are. In theory, an internship, job, school, school club and sorority are all normal things for college students to partake in. But when you spend all of your free moments in your head over analyzing things like job-placement statistics, the dangers of television, how you shouldn’t take cough syrup because it suppresses your symptoms and the amount of calories in a Gala apple versus Granny Smith-dull moments like sitting in traffic become impossible.
Starting at the end of this blog post, I’m going to slow down and I urge you to do the same. This does not mean quit your responsibilities or give up on your dream.
The big picture is still the big picture. But bring your big picture into perspective and dissect it. Dissect it into sections: What you can do right this moment, what you can do next, and what you cannot yet do. That last section is reserved for life. There’s a reason why longevity is to be valued.
The big picture is important, but don’t kill yourself in the process of trying to develop the negatives.
(This post was originally shared on the timesunion.com)