You Just Don’t Know
When I was 23, my father helped me buy my first car. I was so excited about my new job as an advertising assistant for an international HR company. Unfortunately, it was located 20 miles from my apartment and the bus was an hour and a half each way. Doing 60 on the highway with the music blaring was much more appealing.
As we perused the shiny new cars on the showroom floor, I fell in love with a 1986 ice blue Plymouth Turismo. We took it for a test drive, and the five on the floor handled the curves like glue. It had great pick-up. But there was one small issue. It had no air conditioning.
My father encouraged me to wait until they could find me one with air, but the thought of three hours a day on a bus stimulated my need for immediate gratification and I chose to ignore his sage advice. I lived in Pittsburgh . . . I could handle the summers without air. No problem.
I lasted eighteen months at the job. My boss lied to me and I felt taken advantage of and unappreciated. Without the vocabulary to communicate that, I developed an attitude that got me fired. Six months later, I moved to West Palm Beach.
October was fine. I cruised through the winter. But come May, the humidity and lack of cool air left me looking like a damp rag doll by the time I arrived at the office. I was desperate for a vehicle with air conditioning and the salesman saw me coming with a big neon sign tattooed on my forehead.
They let me drive the car I liked off the showroom floor and take it home for the evening – just to be sure. The next day, I signed a 60-month lease. It was the only way I could afford it on my salary and it was the only car I’d found that had everything I thought I needed. Two years later, I moved to New York City where I had to choose between rent and a parking space. The loan was completely upside down and although it wasn’t my finest moment, I parked it in the bank’s parking lot and gave them the keys before catching my flight to Newark.
Often we feel so sure of the outcome. We’re certain of how things will go. We just “know” how a situation is going to unfold. Then when it doesn’t, ego arrives with its tools of torture, anxious to beat us up for not making better choices.
The truth is you don’t ever know. All you can do is make the best choice you can in the moment. Perhaps in retrospect it’s not the best decision you’d have wanted to make, but if it was the best you could do at the time, asking any more of yourself is absurd.