So I have a fun fact for everyone.
Going 60 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone saves you a whopping 5 seconds per mile.
I find this fact funny because I’ve always heard people tell me that it is “ok” to go 5 mph over the speed limit. “The cops don’t care,” “It’s fine, you won’t be pulled you over.” This was what my friends would tell me whenever I was not driving over the speed limit.
But I repeatedly refused to go over the speed limit, because when I got my license, I decided I would not speed.
Yes. I was “that guy” on the road, only going 54 mph in a 55 mph zone.
Despite being called Granny PJ by everyone, including my English teacher, I was always ok with it, because I had decided not to break the legal limit and logistically, 5 seconds per mile did not seem worth it.
Well one day earlier this year I was on my way to visit a school north of me. I got in my car and started my navigator. As soon as my navigator turned on, I panicked. The estimated time of arrival was later than I expected. Basically, I misjudged the distance, and I was going to be a little late. As I started driving, I felt sick to my stomach, because I felt so bad and just wished I could get there on time.
I was driving up the interstate when I glanced over and saw some cars passing me. They weren’t going “that” much faster than me; what if I just sped up a little to match them and blend in.
Then soon after, another set of cars were going past me, and I thought about matching their speed.
So I did.
This pattern continued for several minutes, until finally I glanced at my speedometer. I was not going just 5 mph over the limit, I was going closer to 12 mph over the speed limit.
And then the craziest thing happened.
A car pulled in front of me, and I happened to read the letters on its license plate.
You know what they were? (This is absolutely true by the way.)
The license plate letters were…
Which I read as,
Why was I going against my better judgement and values to be about 3 minutes less late?
Immediately, I slowed down, and drove the speed limit once again. I arrived a few minutes late to the school, and guess what, it was ok.
My experience on that highway is a lot like one we face on the road of life.
Just like when I was going to be late, there will be circumstances in which it would seem easiest to go against our values.
“This is a really hard predicament, and let’s be honest, no one will ever know right?”
Just like I thought it would be ok to speed up “just a little,” we will be tempted to make exemptions from following our beliefs.
“I am not going to do anything that bad; I am just going to cut corners a little bit.”
Just like I thought I would be ok since I was only following what other people were doing, we will be faced with times that the actions of those around us do not align with our internal moral compass.
“But everyone else is doing it, and they seem just fine.”
Everyone will face these situations in our lives, and I certainly continue to face these situations. I certainly find myself asking these questions from time to time.
The best thing we can do is identify what we value and find a way to hold ourselves to it. Decide what is truly important to you. Take a night this week, and write down everything that is important to you. Then cut the list in half. Then cut it again. Cut it down so you’re left with 4-6 things that are the absolute most important values to you.
Write these down somewhere: on a note card, a sheet of paper, anywhere. Then put them somewhere where you can look at it; it is much harder to stray from your values when you are constantly reminded of them.
Values are important. They are what makes us who we are. When we share common values with people, we connect with them the best. My best friends are the ones who share those same values I do, which is why I work so hard to stay true to my values.
I’m not saying I’m perfect when it comes to holding strong to my values; I certainly am not. I’m also not saying you’re a bad person if you go 5 mph over the speed limit; I don’t want to tell you how to drive.
All I’m saying is the people and beliefs we value are extremely important, and it’s important that we do not let situations or other people pull us from those values. True friends should be the ones encouraging us and helping us stick to those values, rather than pull us away from them.
I learned a lot on that highway. Driving the speed limit might not actually be one of my most dear values, but it was a great reminder to always show integrity and stay by my beliefs.
So if you need me, I’ll be “that guy” on the road, going 54 in a 55.
Stationed by the rising sun,