“The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.” ~ H.G. Wells
I ran across the quote while doing some reading and research for my day-job and it jumped out at me as a good platform to start a discussion relating to Own Your You.
But what the hell is it supposed to mean? It’s a crisis! How will that EVER be funny? Well, I guess it depends on which definition of crisis we are going to use. The definition “a condition of instability of danger, as in social, economic, political, or international affairs, leading to a decisive change” may have less humor in it (although, that doesn’t mean there are not laughable pieces about it, or that it won’t be used as fodder for jokes by people…but that is a whole different story) than does a crisis that fits the definition of “a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person’s life.”
For the sake of this blog post, when I refer to a crisis, I am not referring to the world-changing danger, I am referring to a personal crisis, because it is quite often our own personal crises that help to put us on our rightest path in our journey.
So let’s take a minute and think of the last time you had a personal crisis. It doesn’t matter what it was, or whether anyone else would think of it as a crisis – all that matters is that YOU felt, in that particular moment, that it was a crisis. I’m going to assume that you are remembering a crisis that is in the past, and not one that you are currently going through. For the purposes of this exercise, you need to have already been through the crisis, not be actively going through it as you read this.
Now that you’ve identified a recent crisis – let’s break it down and look at what happened. What you did. What you said. What you felt. What was said to you…etc.
My crisis is this: I bought a new car and then promptly rear-ended someone! Now, it was not a bad accident, no one was injured, and the car in front of me (giant metal beast with a tailgate) had absolutely zero damage. It was minor. However, in that moment, it was a crisis for me. I had literally had my new car for four days at that point. FOUR! I still had temporary plates on the damn thing!
Here’s how it went down: I was leaving work and it was a late fall day, which means that, where I live, it’s pitch black by 5:00pm, and this happened at 5:23pm (yes. I remember the exact time. What of it?) I was sitting at a stop light waiting to turn right. I was third in line to turn behind a giant metal SUV type thing – maybe an early 90’s Bronco type thing? (Cars aren’t my specialty. It was big. It was metal. It had a tailgate. That is what I know.)
So the light turned green and we all slowly let off the brakes and the first car in line made the right turn safely and without incident. Suddenly: WOOO-WOOOO-WOOOOO. Sirens. So I put my foot on the brake to stop and see where the sirens are coming from/heading to. The giant beast in front of me did the same. I don’t know if it was just that the beast stopped faster than I did, or if I hadn’t figured out the brakes on my new car yet (I mean, they work fundamentally the same way in all cars, but as I’m sure you all know, they do have a slightly different feel to them from one car to the next) but either way, the next thing I know, I was stopped, the beast in front of me had it’s hazard lights on, and I was VERY close to the back of that car. Right. Because I freaking HIT IT!
I just looked down at my lap in dismay. Complete and utter shock. What have I done? My BRAND NEW CAR!?!?
I got out to survey the damage, and the beast’s driver did the same (she was actually a very nice lady, thankfully, and my reference to “the beast” is solely referring to the size of the vehicle she was driving and not inferring that she is in any way, shape, or form, the beast.) We looked and this is when I saw a small caved in area on my (plastic) bumper where it had obviously hit her metal tailgate. But of course, my little plastic bumper did nothing to her metal one. So we exchanged info and were on our way.
I was shaking, but only slightly. I safely navigated the roads, traffic, and stoplights the rest of the way to the highway. It was then, when I was safely on the highway, that I called my husband (hands free, bluetooth. Safety first!) I couldn’t decide whether to tell him then or wait until I got home. As it turns out, I didn’t actually have to make that decision. Once he heard my voice he immediately asked if I was ok. I could not pretend that everything was fine (I never can. Heart on Sleeve. Always.) and so I immediately started crying and said, “Nooooooo!”
Hubby: “What’s wrong?”
Sobbing harder: “I was in an a-acc-acccident.”
“Are you ok?”
“Yeahhhhh.” (sob hiccup)
“Is everyone else ok?”
“Is the car ok to drive?”
“Yeah.” (refer back to the tiny ding in the plastic bumper. Yes the car is ok to drive. I know this. I cannot imagine what poor Hubby was imagining, hearing me sobbing like this.)
“I am going to hang up now because I need you to focus on driving and getting home safely and I don’t think you can do that while you’re crying and talking to me. Ok?”
“Be safe. I’ll see you when you get home.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.” (sob sob sob)
I made it home without incident. I cried a lot of the way. My husband met me in the garage when I pulled in.
I got out of the car, can’t even imagine what I looked like when he first saw me – mascara and eyeliner running down my face, red puffy eyes, red runny nose…I’m not a delicate, pretty crier. I go all out when I cry. It’s a mess. So that’s the face that greets him. Then he looks down at my bumper – at the tiny little ding. Then he looks back at me. And laughs!
He laughs! “That’s it?”
I look at it again, in the bright light of the garage, and with someone who is completely sane, logical, and objective. And I laugh. And then I start crying again. And the laugh/cry thing goes on for a while. I managed to relay the chain of events to him. To his immense credit he did not say anything along the lines of “You need to be careful.” Or anything equally as incendiary as that. He simply said “Well, with all of the driving you do, this was bound to happen sooner or later. I’m just glad this is all that it was.” Sane. Logical. Practical.
I moped around all night and most of the next day feeling sorry for myself. Feeling sorry for my car. Feeling embarrassed. Feeling stupid. Feeling angry. Feeling that if only I had stopped at the bank like I had planned before getting in my car… Feeling all sorts of feels. Until I couldn’t just feel the feels anymore and I had to just own them.
I made a mistake. I screwed up. No one was hurt. I can fix the car if I choose to. I can handle this.
I realize that this isn’t a massive, life-changing crisis. But when it happened it was a crisis – to me. It forced me to really look at the big picture and just handle things. Moping around wishing it didn’t happen, wishing I’d stopped faster, wishing I’d stopped at the bank…none of that was going to undo what happened.
I can tell the story now in a way that makes people laugh – and in a way that makes me laugh. I am human. I screwed up. I’m owning it. I’ve owned my mistake. It’s one more piece of who I am. It’s not a big piece, but it’s there. Am I a good driver? Yes. Am I a safe drive? Yes. Do I always make EXTRA sure I’m stopping before the person in front of me is stopping? YES! Lesson learned.
So now, back to your crisis. The one you thought about before you started reading my story. What about it was funny? Your reaction? Someone else’ reaction? The setting? The words used to express anything? Surely there must have been something that now, in hindsight, seems comical. Think about it. Laugh. It’s ok. Laugh out loud at yourself and the situation. It feels good.
More importantly, what did you learn? What did you change? Did this help you Own Your You? Did it help your journey? How? Think about it. Tell me about it!
I used this minor crisis for this post because it’s simple to relay – it’s a specific event. I have more life-altering crises in my past, of course, and if you want to hear about any of those and how I’ve used those to find my path, to shape my journey, to Own My Me, because you think it could be helpful to you in figuring out how to Own Your You, I’m more than happy to share.
Laugh at yourself. It’s healthy!