It Could Be Worse...
by Alexa Francisco
Trip Log 6
The side of some road in Tampa, Florida
It could be worse.
Over the past two days, this has been my mantra.
And it could be. Much worse, actually, and I think that keeping that at the forefront of my mind has been the main contributing factor in my “keeping it cool” or, as cool as possible, approach to this situation.
Basically, I’ve got van probs. You guys know how stressful we let things like this get- I keep reminding myself of all the stuff I tell other people when they’re in these situations.
Things like, it could be worse…
At first, it wasn’t helping me at all and was more so just pissing me off. And I felt like a damn hypocrite for all of the times I’ve sat with friends on roadsides in the past, trying everything I could to help them widen their perspective with words like that while we waited for the tow truck to come.
I felt like a hypocrite because the truth is that the second I walked back to Granny (my dear van) and saw that her front left tire had exploded, my face got hot, my heart sank into my butt, and I cried a little because right now, the last thing I want to have to pay for are car repairs.
It’s funny how we get into these situations and end up beating ourselves up even further- which is what I started to do when I noticed that my initial reaction wasn’t as mature as I would’ve liked it to be. But then I realized I was judging myself for naturally reacting to stress (something else I’ve talked to my friends about when they’re facing their own versions of this).
I took 5 minutes to feel all the not-so-good-feelings. After that, I decided, I would get my shit together.
I called AAA, and though for a combination of frustrating reasons it took well over 4 hours and 3 different tow truck drivers to get my van on the flatbed and to the tire shop that was only one mile down the road from me, I was lucky. It was going to be an easy fix- and then all of a sudden I found myself focusing on the all of the things I had to be grateful for, rather than focusing on the things that were going wrong.
Not only did my tire somehow not explode while I was driving- being stranded with Granny is the best! I had my computer, food, a full-size bed, my instruments... I couldn't be more comfortable because I was stranded with my main squeeze- my house on wheels.
All was well, and after a very long day, I finally had a new tire on Granny. It may sound silly but I felt kind of proud of my ability to keep a semi-level head through it all because van probs aside, I’ve been a little stressed in general lately which could have easily been exacerbated by the mechanical breakdown.
Then it got worse.
Fast forward to this morning- post coffee shop chill and back to being stranded. I’m sitting with Granny again, and this time it’s not just an exploded tire, she’s gonna have to go into the shop for some surgery. That means a near 90-mile tow and a God-knows-how-big bill from my mechanic.
As I sit here, having to call AAA for the second day in a row, realizing that I’ve just used my last tow of the year, I’m trying to jump straight to the part where I feel better about everything. You know, the part where it feels good to realize that yet again, nothing happened while I was driving, I’m comfortable, I’m thankful, etc… But damn, guys, it’s hard. It’s one thing to be without Granny for a few hours like yesterday but when I drop her off at the mechanics I have to expect that it will be at least a few days. That means going at least a few days without my personal sanctuary.
In all honesty, though, it could definitely still be worse.
This is something that I keep coming back to time and time again and what I think we can all benefit immensely from opening ourselves to. Because even though it won’t literally fix everything, it will fix your mentality surrounding the situation. I’ve been playing around with my response to stress for many years but go back to even about a year ago, and you’d still find someone who was way more likely to be telling herself that things couldn’t possibly get any worse instead of someone who completely understood that things could very well be much, much worse.
There’s a huge difference between the two, ya know.
And now that I’m writing all of this out I’m thinking that maybe I have finally allowed the latter to settle into my stubborn brain. And that realization is pretty damn liberating.
In situations like this, what end of the spectrum do you find yourself favoring? The end focusing on all that’s gone wrong or the end focusing on all that’s gone well?
Stress is stress, we can’t avoid it. But we can keep adjusting our reaction to it.
“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” -Lou Holtz
by Alexa Francisco
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