What Losing My Wallet Taught Me

When under pressure, I have found that everyone reveals certain behaviors without being able to control it, and often without noticing it. It's like the fight or flight enigma, the glass half full or half empty perspective, the have a total meltdown or keep your cool dilemma. I like to think that these impulsive behaviors aren't simply set in stone, that you can grow and change. However, even if you are lucky enough to change your impulsive reactions, I have also found that your initial instincts can never fully go away. They're embedded in your DNA. It's like your eye color, or hair color, or even your handedness. You can try to change it, and sometimes it may work, but at some point your dark roots are going to grow out, and your highlights won't always look good. I started thinking about all of this when I lost my wallet a few days ago.

When I was a sophomore in high school, my sister and I impulsively decided to go shopping at Gap. We put our little knock-off wristlets on a counter, and bent over to try on shoes. When we stood back up our wallets had vanished, the defenseless little things were carried off by some mean ladies that apparently like stealing from oblivious teenage girls. My sister cried, I whispered profanities, and we had to do the most embarrassing thing of all and ask the Gap workers if anyone had turned in two wallets. Watching them shake their heads no with nothing but pity in their eyes, was like a punch to the stomach. My sister and I sulked home, wrote a song about our misfortunes, and became cynical obsessive people who will forever assume that the person next to you is plotting to steal your phone. For years I clutched my belongings like a winning lottery ticket, I scolded my friends for turning away from their purses, and warned everyone about how horrible it is to get your wallet stolen. So when I checked my purse for my lipstick, keys, and wallet before going shopping with my sister a few days ago, you can imagine my furious panic when I couldn't find my wallet.

I've never been black Friday shopping, but I imagine I would look something like how I did running through my house, to my car, dumping out bags, throwing pillows, falling to the floor to search under beds and couches before springing back up to repeat the cycle. This was my initial reaction - moving so fast I got a side stitch, accepting help from no one, and unable to even verbalize the issue. I let anxiety and panic scoop me up and take me for a sickening spin. When my mom and sister asked what I was doing I couldn't even look at them, I was too afraid that I would see the same pity I saw in the Gap workers eyes four years ago. When minutes turned into hours, retracing my steps created circles, calling everywhere I had been or thought about going in the last 24 hours resulted in a symphony of no's, I concluded that I must have done what I swore I'd never do again, and left my wallet on a bench by a fountain where I had eaten ice cream. I left it there and someone took it. My credit card, license, target card, small cute polaroid picture, 25$ cash, and a half punched lucky lab discount card, had been lost forever.

I cried a little, yelled a lot, made a pouty face, moped around, and after a few hours of misery, I started thinking rationally about how to move forward. I turned off my debit card, cancelled my target card, and made plans to go to the DMV, otherwise known as hell. I spent days angry with myself, mad that whoever took my wallet didn't turn it in, and too embarrassed to ask anyone for help. That's when I realized my pattern of behavior. When something bad, hard, or sad happens, I often times mope, refrain from asking for help, and expect the worst. I put bad energy into the universe, and the cosmic powers spit it right back. But this time the world and humanity surprised me.

Day three of the pity party, walking around as a sarcastic shell of a person, I opened up my front door to see my beloved wallet at my feet. Apparently some kind soul, my guardian angel, a wonderful ice cream-eating patron, found my wallet, pulled out my ID and returned my belongings home (the 25$ cash was missing, but that is a fee I will gladly pay to avoid setting foot in the DMV).

I suppose saying my bad habits of negative initial reactions are behind me would be presumptuous, but I will say this happy ending to a sad story has changed me. Maybe I won't jump to negative conclusions from now on. Maybe I'll hold onto this little bit of faith, for a little while longer, at the very least.

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