This was the announcement I made to my friends on the eve of my fourth road test. I figured it was pretty good motivation for me to pass this time around.
In my defense, I wasn’t the worst driver in the world. I had memorized all the rules of the road, I was cautious and technical, and my specialty was something that makes most other kids fail their road test — parallel parking.
But I was terrible at 2 very important things:
- getting onto the highway without truckers honking and cursing at me
- making a left turn at a busy intersection without making my driver’s ed teacher soil his pants
In short, I was good at following guidelines and using formulas, but bad at making decisions at critical moments.
But you need good technical skills AND decision-making skills in order to arrive at your destination without harming yourself or others.
Sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?
We tend to assume that we’ve arrived at adulthood once we’ve followed the guidelines and reached certain milestones. These milestones include:
- Your bedroom no longer has posters on the walls.
- You eat sushi, Indian food, smoked salmon, and other things that you wouldn’t find on the kids’ menu.
- You own a set of matching luggage.
- You have a job, an apartment, and maybe someone sleeping on the other side of our bed whose first and last name you know by heart.
But being a grown-up is more than just about being responsible, independent, and accomplished. It’s about making good decisions when the road of life is slippery, when others selfishly break the rules and put you in danger, or when you’re driving alone in the dark, afraid.
And how do we improve our decision-making skills? Practice. And I don’t just mean practicing on a sunny day when the road is clear, either. I mean practicing at night on a busy road during a rain storm.
I know that the painful loss of my “almost-fiance” in my 20′s is not the only personal sh*t storm I’ll ever face. But I am comforted in knowing that my depression showed me who I am at my worst, what I’ll be able to survive when the next storm blows through, and who I can grow to be if I’m brave enough to push forward.
It’s been 14 years since I passed my fourth road test, and 7 years since I survived my first personal sh*t storm. Here’s a photo of me driving a huge 17′ truck, with my husband (the man who was my second chance at love), sitting in the passenger’s seat:
I’ve come a long way. And something tells me you have too.
The only guarantee in life is that things will change, and the road will be bumpy. But if you’ve bravely pushed through change and survived the bumps in the past– if you’ve practiced the art of navigation and decision-making during hard times– you can do it again.
Your Turn: What incident in your life demonstrates your grown-up decision-making skills?