Two weeks after I earned my provisional driving license, I offered to give two high-school friends a ride home. I made the decision against my parents wishes who had strictly forbidden any passengers for the first six months. Driving past the main street shops, my friends began to gawk at a group of schoolgirls standing at the traffic light.
Not wanting to miss out on the action, I turned my attention from the road for a matter of seconds to see what all the fuss was about. In the rush of excitement I’d failed to notice the changing lights and rammed the car in front, the hood of my little hatchback caving under the bumper of a European SUV.
That five-minute car ride was to put me in the poor house for the next five years. Consumed with a sense of worthlessness for the next few months, I couldn’t help replaying the event over and again. My reckless behavior had put peoples lives in danger, including my own (lucky for me no one was harmed in the incident). It was so hard to fathom how a few seconds could change your life so quickly.
I was so ashamed at myself and became ridden with guilt. Until one day I woke up and discovered I was sick and tired of feeling sorry for myself. Yes, I’d been responsible for causing a relatively serious accident but I wasn’t going to let it haunt me forever. Instead I took it upon myself to learn from my mistake and to become a staunch advocate for safe driving.
Thirteen years later, after owning and operating cars on three different continents, I can proudly say I’ve never had another accident.
What proverbial skeletons live in your closet?