My first car was a ’56 Chevy and other things you don’t know about me…

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It totally wasn’t. I can’t imagine how many of my bar stories start with “I used to have this awesome red Dodge Colt.” Actually none do, because that’s pretty embarrassing to admit 1) because they don’t even make the Colt/Talon anymore and 2) because I really truly thought it was an awesome car and now…I don’t. But despite the fact that the car wasn’t even good enough to keep producing and it was a domestic, I did love it.

Why?

Culture: Better than beige. I chose it because it was better than the alternative, which was…a beige 4-door Ford Taurus (automatic). Now, if you’ve met me, you will know that there are three things wrong with that statement:

1) beige

2) automatic

3) four door

(I have three wiry little boys now so I tool around in a pretty rad green Odyssey but then I didn’t then). Beige is a fine color for a lot of people but I knew then (AND NOW) that it’s not the color for me. I don’t have any walls that are beige, cars that are beige, clothes that are beige…well you get it. My Dodge Colt, while old, was red, well faded red, but I wanted a car I could identify with. The vehicle I chose conveyed something about me, something I could identify with.

Expression: It had a killer horn. But even those three “dealbreakers” weren’t enough to dissuade me from the staid Taurus. Everyone kept telling me it was more reliable, better for insurance, I didn’t know how to drive a stick and blah blah blah. So test drove it despite my misgivings. Now, being an awesome driver like myself makes it pretty hard to get on the road without noticing the horrible driving of others. My test drive was no exception. Some lady pulls out in front of me, no blinker, no warning, so I hit the horn…HARD. And what comes out? This tiny little “meep meep” sound that a roadrunner could have done better justice. Now that might not have made any difference to other people. Most people in Omaha don’t even use their horn (and should). But for me, I decided that I needed a vehicle that could convey the person I was and communicate what I was feeling (something more noble than road rage but less than altruistic driving instruction). This was necessary both for safety and communication.

Growth Opportunities: A challenge, right off the lot. This didn’t stop the naysayers from telling me it was INSANE to drive a car off the lot, that I technically couldn’t drive. But I did. And I stalled, before I even left the lot. And again at the light. And later going to work several times. And again driving home from work.

When I thought about stalling at a light at the tender age of 18 (so I was a late driving bloomer, sue me) I was filled with fear. What if people honked at me (literary irony there)? What if I couldn’t get it started again? How could I learn this new skill with everyone watching and waiting for me to trip up?

I just…did. Sometimes you take on a big project that you’re not sure you can really do. Sometimes you don’t even have the necessary skill sets to implement them properly. But if you let that stop you, you’ll never get past the beige Ford Taurus careers. The best things are not automatic.

Appropriate Expectations: It was the right choice for right then. As I stated, now I have a big old minivan. But then, I didn’t need that and frankly couldn’t have handled it. Gas would have been expensive, a van is too big for me and the occasional guest, etc. In a state with a lot of snow, I see lots of teen girls riding around with 4 wheel drive and while a lot of them are safe, sometimes this “more than you can feasibly handle” is disastrous. By keeping my expectations real, both with what I could handle and afford, I made a good choice for my place in life. (Don’t confuse this with the above, having more than you can handle is different than learning or conquering something new.)

There are many times I’ve been approached with offers or gone on interviews where I knew I could learn that new skill BUT I wouldn’t have the ability to express myself or where the job would have been a cakewalk but I wouldn’t have learned a thing or where I’m offered something that’s too big for me to handle right then. By carefully weighing Culture, Expression, Growth Opportunities and Expectations you can pick a career choice that fits just right.

Sorry I totally lied in the title. No one knows what a Dodge Colt is…so here.


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