When I was in college, my car got repossessed. As in, one minute I had a car and the next minute I didn’t.
What had happened was . . . my mom had been paying my car note and, unbeknownst to me, had fallen on hard times and stopped making the payments. (This was about 10 years ago, way before she got a fancy MBA degree and her own business.)
Anyway, one weekend I went to visit mom and the repo man came and got my beautiful blue Toyota Corolla right from the parking lot of her building.
At the time, it was devastating. Embarassing, even.
I had been saving up for a study abroad trip to Greece led by my poetry professor and mentor. My grandfather had also given me some money to help me travel there. I was already working three jobs to pay for my off-campus apartment and all my other expenses. I could not afford to get a new car AND still be able to pay for the trip to Greece.
At the time, it seemed like I had no other choice.
I remember taking out all the savings I had at the time – about $3,000 – to buy a beat-up old red Saturn to replace my beloved Toyota. I went to the bank to get it all in cash, which is what the seller had asked for in the classified ad.
I handed over all those hundred dollar bills in quiet resignation, wondering if having my own ride was worth the pain of not being able to visit one of my dream destinations. I also wondered if I would ever get that chance again.
To this day, I wish I had gone to Greece instead of buying that damn car.
The thing is, I could’ve made do without a car. My fellow students were doing it everyday. They were the ones bumming rides off of me! I could’ve learned to take the bus, used the university shuttle, or rode with friends.
But somehow, I got it into my head that my only choice was to replace the car that had been taken from me. I thought I needed my own car to be OK, to be able to get to all of my jobs and not have to depend on other means.
That is just one (of many) choices in my life that I wish I had approached differently. I suspect that the way I am choosing to live now (and my plan to travel abroad later this year) is being subconsciously influenced by the perceived mistake I made in the past of placing more value on things vs. experiences.
You probably have your own story like this. Maybe not of your car getting repossessed, but of a choice you made in the past that you would likely do-over if you got the chance. Maybe you think about it every once in a while (or all the time) – how your life would be different if you had just taken that other fork in the road.
But of course, the only thing that matters is the way you choose to live your life now.
The choices we made in the past are part of our history but the choices we make now will be part of our future.