Three Saturdays ago, I forgot I agreed to curl my best friend’s hair before her college graduation in Kansas City. It happens, right? I jumped out of bed, hopped in the shower, and packed a bag. I wish that graduation was the only item on my agenda for the day, but unfortunately it was overlapping with another one of my best friend’s college graduations, which I had to skip, and packed tightly before a wedding in my college town. Why me?
No big deal, though. Because I’m super woman. I can do it all, and I have been for as long as I can remember. This past semester I packed in cheer practices, student teaching, lesson planning, gym time, Netflix time, and anything else life wanted to throw at me. So I rushed out the door.
God wasn’t having it. You see, on the outside, I really had it together. I graduated college in four years, landed my dream job and then some, and seemed to have everything in my life so perfectly planned. I believed the lie as did everyone else on the outside looking in at me.
Driving up my street, I shot my best friend a quick message that I was on my way, and before I was even out of my neighborhood, I almost didn’t notice the blue and red flashing lights behind me. Why me? I didn’t have time to get pulled over.
“I’m sorry, I’m really in a hurry,” I said as the police officer approached my car. What had I done? I really didn’t know.
“You rolled through that stop sign, and you were going pretty fast. License and insurance,” the police officer mechanically stated, totally unaware that he was ruining plans I’d forgotten I’d even made.
I fumbled through my glove box to find my EXPIRED insurance card. Why me? Instantly, my head began to throw blame on my dad for not giving me my new card. I knew he had to have it at home, but he and I are the same – we spread ourselves way too thin, forget things that seem so small until they’re big, and then we blame other people, unable to admit that we’re not the perfect people we want to be for everyone we love.
The officer was in his car for a long time compared to the other two times I’d been pulled over and gotten off with warnings. I frantically texted my best friend and my mom about the situation. I knew this time was different, but I still prayed he’d send me on my way empty handed. Why me?
He returned with a speeding warning, a citation for running a stop sign, and kind words that he trusted my dad had my new insurance card down the street at home. I didn’t ask him any questions. I was busted. And it only took me the short moment when I finally pulled out of my neighborhood for the tears to begin falling and for me to realize it wasn’t this police officer who had taken the time to finally slow me down in a big way – it was God.
Maybe that’s a silly way to look at it, but it makes me feel better to reflect on that Saturday morning as divine intervention rather than an embarrassing $125 ticket obtained less than a mile from my house.
Instead of continuing down the road to my best friend’s house, I pulled a U-turn and called my mom with big, heavy tears rolling down my face and choking my words. My agenda for the day had changed. This was the breaking point I had been warned about by my boyfriend and my colleagues. I don’t know how to handle stress, and I don’t know how to take time for myself. I’d rather throw my hands up in the air and ask “why me?” when I’m alone and keep my confident demeanor when I’m in public.
I spent the rest of that morning and early afternoon curled up in bed. And because my boyfriend knew the breakdown was coming, he drove up to bring me my favorite drink from Starbucks and a cake pop. He was singing at the wedding that evening, so I decided to keep that on the agenda because if everything else was a mess, at least I could hear him use his gift at a celebration of love. There’s always time for love.
For three weeks, I’ve been sitting on this blogpost, mulling it over in my head, twiddling with it on my fingers, but unable to sit down and type it. Why? I don’t have the answers. God finally pulled me away from my busy life, and He got my attention, but I don’t feel any less stressed.
During the weekends following my ticket, I skipped every single graduation party besides my brother’s because I had anxiety just thinking about trying to fit them all in. And I felt awful about it because there were so many high school seniors that have such a big place in my heart and I genuinely wanted to celebrate them. I became stuck in my head. Why me?
My calendar has opened up now that summer is in full swing, but I’ve filled the free time with binge-watching too much Netflix and adding to a mountain of stuff for my classroom without ever really looking through each resource. I have so much help and support, but I don’t even know where to start preparing myself for my first-year teaching in the fall.
I don’t know how I’m supposed to stand in front of my classroom of freshmen and be their teacher when I’m just as nervous as they are. It’s amazing – I now have a degree in education and I’ve never felt more inadequate to really be a teacher. The bottom line is I don’t know how to step into my adult life with the perfection I’ve had as my sidekick almost my entire life. Perfection is a lie…
So I want to ditch it. I want to ditch perfection once and for all.
I want to be able to throw my hands in the air PUBLICLY and be proud to say that I have no idea what I’m doing. I have nothing figured out. I’m still learning.
But I’m going to work every day to get better. I’m going to live in the moment. I’m going to enjoy time with the people I love. I’m going to take time for myself, whatever that means in the moment I need it. I want to get out of my comfort zone, embrace the unknown, and admit when I’ve made a mistake. I want to slow down. I want to come to a complete stop at every stop sign.
So I got my very first ticket at 22. And it sucked. But that was just one bad day. Tomorrow is always an opportunity to be better, and that’s what I want to tell my freshmen. That’s what I want to carry with me as I prepare myself for my first-year teaching.
I don’t want to ask “why me?” anymore. I know why: because I was made for this and I will always be learning.