Sometimes, the moments that you can learn the most from are the absolute worst.
One of those moments happened to me on Saturday when, after losing control on a patch of black ice on I-70, I swerved across the lanes, magically avoiding other cars as I came to a stop at a 90-degree angle in the middle of the snow-covered highway. It looked like I was going to be fine. I could breathe a sigh of relief.
Until I locked eyes with the semi-truck driver who was barreling directly in my direction.
Quick background: I did not have the best day on Friday. Actually, I had a downright terrible day. It was one of those days when I needed to send an apology text the next morning, simply for the despicable things I said to my friends.
It was one of those nights when I knew that my self-loathing and self-pity were absolutely despicable and obnoxious, but I had too much self-loathing and self-pity to really care.
Saturday, when I woke up at 5 a.m. and couldnâ€™t go back to sleep, I decided in another act of selfishness to go skiing, figuring that it would clear my mind for a while and give me something productive to do.
And thatâ€™s what brought me to that temporary position where, probably for the first time ever, I was looking death straight in the eyes.
The semi-truck driver made a miraculous turn and was able to get around me. The person behind the semi-truck, however, was not that lucky, and side-swiped me. Weâ€™re both okay, and while our cars both sustained a bit of damage, itâ€™s definitely not as bad as it could have been.
When I turned around and drove home after the accident, I realized how petty my actions had been over the past 24 hours, how I let something crush me so badly that was just going to be a small blip over the course of my life.
I could have died after a night of being a total douche, and killed other people because of my selfishness, and because of the fact that I let a small bit of adversity turn me into the type of person who thinks itâ€™s a good idea to drive on I-70 during a snowstorm in a Toyota Matrix.
My friendsâ€™ last memories of me would have been of those classless texts of that â€œme firstâ€ attitude that permeated my thinking that entire evening.
I would have died doing something downright selfish and idiotic.
As I write this now, roughly four hours after the crash, Iâ€™ve realized something: Life is too short for self-pity and for self-loathing. In summary, life is too short to be an idiot.
Itâ€™s easy for me to be thankful for my friends, my family and the absolutely amazing opportunities that I have. But to let them know how much I appreciate them, day in and day out? Not so easy.
One thing I can do is vow that, the next time I see a real or metaphorical semi-truck barreling in my direction, I wonâ€™t feel a sense of regretâ€”that my legacy on any given day is one that Iâ€™m alright with my friends and family remembering me for.
Maybe, at the end of the day, having that bad day on Friday was the best thing that could have happened to me. As much as Iâ€™m still shaking a few hours later, after almost being hit head-on by a semi, I learned something huge, and I know what to do to combat the haunting feeling of regret that was mixed with my fear as I realized what I could be remembered for.
Maybe, at the end of the day, things truly do happen for a reason. It seems pretty serendipitous that, after a definite low-point, I learned something incredibly important.
It doesnâ€™t seem like a coincidence that two pretty momentous events happened to me this weekend, and I like to think that thereâ€™s a God or something out there somewhere who thought it was high time I learn this lesson.
Itâ€™s nice to actually have a little bit of perspective, something that I couldnâ€™t have had if not for the car crash, which would have not happened if not for my miserable day on Friday (which in retrospect, doesnâ€™t seem so miserable. Actually, itâ€™s downright petty compared with what billions of other people live with every day).
In that vein, since this is my last column of the semester, I also want to take the chance to thank you all for reading through my random and sometimes self-indulgent musings. I want to thank my friends and family for being perpetually supportive, and I want to say thanks for the amazing privileges and opportunities that I have.
Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte is a junior journalism major. Her column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.