My first car accident came just weeks after I received my driver’s license at the young age of sixteen years old. That bright, shiny red Jeep cherokee sport was my latest and greatest gift I got for my birthday. I had earned it, though. I was promised by my parents that if I made the U.S. Region II Regional Team through high school, I would get every teenagers dream–a brand, new car. This incentive made me work that much harder on the soccer field.
I was on my way to my very first high school job. I worked at Running Fit, a shoe store, two nights a week and one day a weekend. My morning started that Saturday at 10:00am. Rushing to get there, since I always seem to be running late, I turned left on a green light into the parking lot. I guess I didn’t see the car coming at me in the opposite direction, who had the right away.
My car was destroyed. I parked in a spot, ran into the store, and called home from the landline in tears. I was hysterical. I was a new driver, in my first accident, and I had no idea what to do. After my dad tried to settle me down, and ask me questions about it, I went back outside. Standing there was a policeman with the other driver writing so diligently. He yelled, “Is this your car?” I stuttered, while shaking terribly, “Yes.” He said, “Not only was this accident your fault, but you are being cited for a hit-and-run.”
A hit-and-run? I was a sixteen-year-old who had no idea what to do, so I ran inside to call my dad. I didn’t run anywhere.. my car was parked in the lot! That was my first experience as a new driver, and you would have thought that it may have taught me a harsh lesson. It did, but, clearly, that was a far greater issue at-hand: my impatience, competitive-nature, and hyperactivity.
My senior year of high school, I was nominated, and on the ballot, for multiple mock awards. One, which I ended up winning, was, “Worst Driver.” I know, Mom, you weren’t proud then, and you still aren’t proud of that one. I must admit now, years later, I was horrible. In my first two years of driving, I was in nine fender-benders (parked cars and moving cars), all of which were my fault, two significant car accidents (one was my fault), received multiple speeding tickets, and, lastly, handed a cop my fake identification in place of my license when pulled over for speeding. Let’s just say, it has improved, but, I have many stories to reflect back upon.
My point in sharing this with you is because my “bad” driving goes along with my personality that has led me to great successes and major downfalls. I am driven, competitive, always wanting to get somewhere quickly, whether it is a goal I have set, or just a restaurant, and I am active. These traits are what made me reach such a high level in soccer, what have contributed to me developing an eating disorder, and what have caused me to be a distracted, and aggressive, driver at times.
Each New Year’s Day, while most people are making resolutions to go to the gym more or eat healthier, I start over and remind myself to slow down: in life, in the car, and in my mind. It takes a lot of focus, and a lot of work. I will say, having two little kids in the back seat of my car has significantly helped me in this department. However, I must admit, I still find myself demonstrating bad habits every so often. And, just like in eating and exercise, I must check myself, manage it, and make a strong effort to reel myself back in. Because my life and my kids lives are far more importance than racing to get somewhere, passing a car, or even running a yellow light.