For the past six months, the power steering in my car has been out of commission. Initially, I decided to ignore the problem. Over the course of those six months, I developed muscles in my arms that I didn’t know existed and constantly wondered what could be causing the problem. Maybe it was a leak in the power steering line. Maybe the car was low on power steering fluid. Maybe one of the serpentine belts had slipped out of alignment. Maybe my car was breaking down. I wondered whether the problem would only get worse over time; I wondered if the problem would eventually cause a car accident; I wondered how much the repairs would cost. To be honest, I did more than wonder about the problem: I fretted over the problem. I became obsessed by it. Driving became a nightmare. My apartment has an awkwardly shaped parking lot that leaves barely any room to get in or out of a parking space, and without power steering what should have been an easy turn became a 25 point turn.
Two days ago, I hit the breaking point. The wheel had become almost impossible to turn. Getting out of my parking spot took 15 minutes. When I tried to turn into the supermarket, I almost hit the curb and had to back out before attempting the turn again. Although this has been a notably snow-less year, the threat of a winter storm made me anxious. Not being able to turn easily on dry, clear roads was one thing, but on icy roads?
I got the car fixed. For $280, six months of worrying evaporated. When I slid into the driver’s seat to test out my new steering, I threw the car into an accidental donut. It was like driving a brand new car. It was like driving a chariot pulled by winged horses that obeyed even the faintest thought, much less touch. It was magic.
So what’s the moral of the 2002 Chevy Cavalier with the leak in the power steering line? Don’t let problems get bigger than they actually are. Save yourself the anxiety of waiting and hesitating and take action when it needs to be taken. In education, this is especially pertinent. Students often spend a lot of time fretting over assignments and homework, but spending that energy on productivity means that they won’t have to worry as much. After all, you can only control yourself.