I sat in my car on the side of the road in a daze for a few seconds after the accident. My heart was pounding. I was breathing heavily. I was still in shock that it happened. I stepped out of my car to assess the damage. My car was hit from every angle and yet the airbags did not deploy for some reason.
The aftermath of the accident was simple. I got a newer used car to replace my very old totaled car. I went to the doctor the next day for a checkup. The physical bruises were minimal, but the real damage was something you could not see.
I was terrified of driving again.
Fear of driving — or post-traumatic stress — after an accident is very common for the people involved in the 6 million traffic accidents that occur every year in the U.S.
It didn't help that the very next car I drove was also old, semi-defective, and prone to shaking in the front. I soon purchased a newer car as a replacement, but I felt like the car was still shaking.
In the weeks after the accident, I was nervous about driving on a highway, since that's where the accident occurred. I stayed in the right lane and only drove 60 mph. As the other cars passed me, I was concerned that they would hit me.
It was incredibly scary to drive over a bridge and have the crosswinds hit my vehicle. When that happened, it felt as if my car or someone else's car would potentially lose control and result in another accident.
But the worst part was driving every day by the spot where the accident happened because it was on my way to work. When I drove in front of that area, I became convinced that another car would hit me or my car would break down suddenly.
I was sweating profusely. I was taking extremely deep breaths. I cried a few times.
And the constant nightmares of replaying the accident didn't help.
There are many solutions that people utilize to gain confidence after an accident, but I didn't want to use them. I was still scared about someone hitting me or my new car failing me.
But then one day, as I was sitting on the highway in traffic, I came to a most interesting conclusion. I realized that no one is trying to prevent me from driving or intentionally trying to injure me. And I realized that my car wouldn't fail me. I discovered that the real obstacle wasn't external, but rather it was all in my head.
It was doubt — and only doubt — that was stopping me.
I remember sitting in my car rationalizing the situation carefully. Once I determined that the fear was entirely in my head, I began to assess the situation. The past few weeks, I've been doubting my abilities to drive — even though I've been driving for years now.
Then I saw the other cars in traffic were finally moving. Other drivers go on the road every day without any obstacles stopping them, so why should I be different? I realized that I did not want to have doubt hold me back from driving just like everyone else.
After I determined that doubt was my only obstacle, I've been able to drive confidently since.
Sometimes, the greatest obstacles we face are intangible. Once we realize that all we need is the strength and the courage to overcome our doubts, and achieve the goals that we want. This proves that you had the power to positively improve your life all along.
Your path to possible can start today.
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