For the past week or so I’ve been driving a rental car. I was in a minor accident at the end of October and so my car—who some of you might know I call Jeffrey—is currently in the shop getting himself a new passenger’s side door and an overall spiff up.
In the meantime, I’m driving a white Kia which, when it’s parked in the garage next to my roommate’s white Acura, has officially been dubbed half of the “white car crew”—because we try to make everything a little exciting.
The Kia, which I’ve named “Ren” (for rental) is vastly different than Jeff, and in the last week of driving him around, I’ve really been able to pinpoint the distinctions.
For starters, Ren is a 2017 Kia Optima while Jeff is a 2007 Saturn Ion, so obviously I’ve taken a huge jump forward in terms of technology. There’s Bluetooth, a backup camera, automatic headlights, shortcut buttons on the steering wheel, and automatic windows. (Swoon)
But even with all of these positives, I spend most of my time picking out things I don’t like about the car. Things I’ve grown comfortable with in my own car, that I miss and would rather not lose, even if it’s only for a few weeks.
The other day, as I was sitting at a stoplight, I was turning my steering wheel back and forth, a habit I’d picked up while driving Jeff because the steering wheel squeaks. Ren’s steering wheel however, does not. It’s silent and smooth and doesn’t have the cracked exterior I pick at when I’m nervous.
This got me thinking.
We’re always looking for the bigger and the better, right? We dream and we look forward, craving the possibilities of the future, rarely looking back at the comforts of the past. I likely wouldn’t have noticed many of the oddities I’ve found that I like about Jeff until I was put in a situation like this where I’m in a completely new car with completely new oddities. The same goes for a new job, a new house, a new relationship, etc.
No matter how much we might be looking for a change in a particular situation, we are always going to have parts of our old situation that we will miss if/when we finally do make that change.
One day I’ll get a new car and all the things I love about Jeff will be gone. I’ll have to break in the driver’s seat and get the mirrors right. I’ll have to find the perfect air temperature and restock the backseat and the trunk with the odds and ends I always like to keep with me.
When that day comes, I will undoubtedly be sad. Sure, I’ll be excited to have a new car, but I’m sure I’ll spend many an afternoon drive thinking about things I liked about my old car. But just as I’ve tried to tell myself now, in the wake of this rental: I can’t dwell on it.
When we make these big changes, either by our choice or by the choices of those around us, we are forced to deal with the ripples. Maybe that new job won’t have your favorite restaurant next door or that tradition you have with your coworkers. Maybe your new relationship won’t have the same dynamic or will take longer to find a new normal. Maybe your new car won’t have a squeaky (yet weirdly comforting) steering wheel.
We are always going to find things to miss about what we had, and that’s okay. At the end of the day, there is a reason you wanted to make this change or why this change found you. And even if the change is only temporary, like this rental car, it would be a waste to spend our days comparing and complaining.
Embrace where you are, what you have and who you’re with right now. Find out what you like and don’t like about what’s right in front of you, not in comparison to what’s behind you.
For me, I can’t wait to get my car back, but I’m thankful I’ve been provided a car to drive in the meantime. And as long as I have it, I solemnly swear to cherish these automatic windows.