My Life Changing 7-12 Seconds


The rain was pouring so hard that my car radio couldn’t seem to penetrate the sound of its force. I was stuck inside my corolla on I-95 listening to harsh noises overlapping one another. My hands were frozen and glued onto the wheel as I crunched my entire body thinking it would assist me in passing through this thunderstorm. It did’t help. My eyes were swelling with tears as fear was in my stomach, creeping up to my chest and into my throat.

My hands were becoming more and more sweaty, but I was too afraid to make any sudden movements, like turning up the A/C.  “You’re almost there”, I repeated to myself. “You’ve driven through this before, and you will do it again, and you are doing great.” Maybe my positive affirmations would help me through the journey. All I wanted was to arrive at home to see Thomas and sit together to catch up on Handmaids Tale.

Although I was driving 60 on the extreme right lane along with most of the other drivers, there always seemed to be that one inappropriate driver ready to rain on my parade. Only 14 minutes to go and my eyes burned with the lights of a semi-truck tailing behind me only to begin the process of cutting me off. The semi-truck glided to the left of my lane and plowed through with a momentum that caused everything to go into slow motion. As the truck passed by, it picked up the flooded water with its wheels and splashed upon my windshield, causing me to completely be blinded for about 7-12 seconds. I could not see the car in front of me, my entire body was preparing for impact, and I couldn’t even manage to scream. The only thing I could think was, “Is this how I am going to die? Like this? What did I do with my life? Would my parents be proud? Would I be proud?”

At the time of this thunderstorm, I was working for a commercial credit reporting agency as a sales rep. It was an entry-level position and my tasks were to make about 70-100 calls a day introducing our services by cold-calling. Most of these individuals we called were representatives of small businesses and I personally didn’t find that our services would be beneficial. However, I did what I was told because I needed the paycheck. The style of this organization wasn’t my taste, but I droned on. I had just graduated with my bachelors degree and was still learning about myself as a professional. As a drone, my sense of purpose was limited.

If you’ve worked as an entry level sales person that had to make 70-100 calls a day, the quality of your calls are probably lacking as the quantity of the minutes per call mathematically have to be low ( at least in this experience). Your mind is on the next sale, the next sale, the next sale, and a sale after that. Human compassion is no longer a priority. Everything is a little more robotic, a little less compassionate and a lot more aggressive.

I was sure my car was on its way to being smushed by the car in front of me and the car behind me. Was I going to die and be called an entry-level salesperson? At my funeral, would my parents be met and greeted with, “Jaan really made her numbers; Jaan was great on the phone; Jaan was always on time to work.” I didn’t know which was worse, to die, or to die without changing the life of someone for the better. I picked the latter.

FYI: I didn’t die (obviously). I didn’t even get into a car crash. If anything, my car received a very deep cleaning. But I was forever changed.

That night I went home and cried as soon as I saw Thomas. What a relief to see him again. Like the loving and kind person he was, he told me that he was happy I was home and proceeded to talk with me about my feelings during that insane car ride. By the end of it, I came to a conclusion that if I was going to make in my career, it wouldn’t be as a professional drone; it had to be through understanding and compassion. I turned on my laptop, began to edit my resume, and a few months later I landed a job as a national healthcare recruiter.

Today, I can happily say that I am impacting and being inspired by numerous healthcare professionals. I have learned the stories of many individuals looking to earn more, experience more, and be more. One particular individual explained how she never thought she would be working at a premiere facility due to her spending so much of her career at a small family-owned business. Going from a 4-bed facility to an over 500-bed facility was a big, but amazing jump for her. It feels good to go to bed and know I was part of her positive journey and career growth. There is a significant sense of satisfaction to know that someone is as grateful for me as I am grateful for them. No price on that.

The point here is this: Whatever you do, make sure that it “hits the spot.” We don’t just crave food, we crave experiences that generate some sort of positive feeling. Do something that challenges you, inspires you, and brings you joy. It can’t just be the paycheck, it has to be more than that. I hope that you all find your 7-12 second life-changing moment and are inspired to seek out a fulfilling path. 


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