As a twenty-year-old human being, I have embraced the fact that the unexpected always happens—it is an inevitable phenomenon. No matter what we do, we can never fully be prepared for this ambiguous and unknown occurrence. Here’s a great, all too fresh example:
Last weekend, I was in Pennsylvania with my mom and two aunts. It was a four-day trip before I began my senior year of college. On one of those days, we decided to drive to Philadelphia and spend the day there. While making a right turn, I felt something odd in the steering wheel—it was like I had to tug a little bit to make the steering wheel turn. This had never happened to me before. Moments later, I made a left turn and had the same problem, only this time, it was even harder to turn the steering wheel. Luckily, we had just turned into a parking garage in Philly, but let me tell you that even going up and around that garage was difficult. I had to pull with incredible force in order for the car to turn. Naturally, I started getting nervous. Long story short, my car had to be towed and taken to a shop so that a few parts could be replaced. From home, my father was able to rent us a car and my uncle, who lives an hour away from Philly, came to pick us up later on in the day.
My crazy mind automatically got nervous about the entire situation. All I could think about was the fact that my car and my family would be stuck in Pennsylvania and school was starting in just a few days. After surviving this weekend, I had the chance to think about how quickly my mind went to the worst-case scenario, rather than taking the situation moment by moment.
Here’s a list of the seven things that we should remember and do when the unexpected happens (and trust me, it will happen):
1. Before freaking out, pause for at least two minutes—get yourself away from the situation either mentally or physically.
I think it's human nature to automatically think of worst case scenarios when something goes bad. Why not think of best case scenarios? When something unexpected happens, you should move yourself away from the situation, however that may be. Give yourself time to process what is going on so that you are not clouded by anything. This will ensure that you make a better judgment call.
2. Seek counsel.
Everyone has their area of expertise. My dad happens to know a lot about cars! When we were in our recent jam in Philly, we gave him a call and he told us how to find the problem. I certainly didn't try to handle the situation myself—that would've made things worse. Instead, my mom and I spoke to several different people and got the situation under control. Find someone who can offer you the expertise or wisdom that you need.
3. Remember that these things are natural—they happen to everyone all the time. You’re not the only one.
The worst thing we can do is pull the "why me" card. Sure, it's easy to think that bad things only happen to us but that's certainly not the case. Although frustrating, I believe that these occurrences keep us humble and allow us to slow down a bit.
4. Have a good attitude, or else things will get worse.
This is much easier said than done, trust me, I know. But, keeping your head up and having a positive attitude can make most situations better instantaneously.
5. Remember that worrying about things does not add another day to your life—the moment might be intensely stressful or painful, but it won’t last forever.
In the moment, it might seem like your situation is never-ending. As I was standing in that garage in Philly, I felt like I was there for hours...it was only a forty minute ordeal but I swear, time stood still.
6. It’s a learning experience.
Grow. Whatever the situation and whatever the outcome, choose to grow from it. You can let the experience make you bitter or better...choose better.
7. When in doubt, think back to Dory's wise words:
And lastly, if you need an anthem to get you through those unexpected moments, listen to Bob Marley's classic, Don't Worry Be Happy.