As of this year, August 19 became a personal holiday. I’m still deciding on an official holiday name, but for now I’m going with “The Day I Didn’t Die.” And yes, arguably, every day I live could be counted as this holiday, but this particular day was different.
It was a Tuesday and I was scheduled to work at both of my jobs, one right after the other. Honestly, I was tired but was up for it because I knew once I trudged through the first, I could go to the one I actually liked. Well, I walked outside to incredible humidity (considering I live in the desert) and an overcast that just turned my potentially boring day into an exciting one. Storms, after all, were one of my favorite things.
I get in my car. I drive out to my favorite road – a fairly lonely freeway that basically weaves through the middle of nowhere – and the rain starts slamming down on my windshield. Water is everywhere. Fog has blanketed the whole road until I can’t even see the cars ahead of me, just their lights. And a part of me got nervous while a greater part was literally thrilled for this dangerous adventure nice and early in the morning.
So, stupid me, I keep on going thinking everything is dandy and I’m just going to drive straight through this storm like it’s nothing. The rain kept coming down harder and that tiny part of me that was nervous started growing – so I did what every totally intelligent adult would do: I turned up my music to distract myself. I also tried to appreciate everything about this – the whole world looked blue, my favorite color, and it was still my favorite weather, and here I am on my favorite road—
And then my favorite song comes on, and I’m just thinking to myself, “How could anything this perfect be scary?” when suddenly my car slips and I go shooting across the lane beside me, spinning up this small incline beside the road, slinging mud and beating on the rain, and then smashing into a sign.
My car stopped and I was in this weird state of not entirely knowing how to feel, because I’d always wondered what being in an accident would be like so how great to know, and hey I lived and hey my windshield was cracked and my side mirror was destroyed, but the damage couldn’t be that bad. Most importantly, I was completely unharmed. I legitimately thought, “Am I okay? …Wait, I’m fine. I’m okay. Am I gonna cry? …No. I don’t need to do that. Why would I cry?”
And I bet you’re thinking, “Doesn’t sound like you almost died to me.” But let me explain. After calling out of my first shift, I determined to still go to the other one. My car was dug out of the mud, towed off, and I was dropped at my house, where I stayed to deal with my insurance company and all the fun technical things that come alongside a traumatic experience… And when it was time, I borrowed my mom’s car and drove to my other job, which required me to take the same route. The storm had temporarily settled, so I could see where I’d slid off and stopped, and had I hydroplaned about five or ten seconds sooner or been in the right hand lane, I would have rolled down a rather large and steep hill. Had that sign not been there, I’d probably have tipped into the road where there was oncoming traffic. Either way, I would have not gotten out so lucky. (Yes, this is when I cried.)
About a week or so later, I was informed that despite the decent outlook of my car, the actual mechanics were destroyed and they’d determined it totaled. (*Insert me having a panic attack over the vehicle I’d wanted since I was a little kid*)
This is was not a situation where I could honestly tell people, “It’s alright.” And it was definitely not the only time this summer where I felt like the things happening to me weren’t alright. It was terrifying and I was so upset, and I’m still a bit traumatized; I can hardly stand driving in the rain now. But, I didn’t have bruise or scrape on me. I was fine. I was alright.
What I got from this is that even when the circumstances are unfair or just terrible in general, even when you truly feel like it’s not alright, you can still be alright. You don’t need a perfect life or likable circumstances to feel okay. Sure, it helps, but you don’t need it. Even if you do get hurt, or you lose something you love, or you gain an emotional or psychological scar… if you are still breathing, you still have the opportunity to choose to be okay in your situation. Will you?