Embracing My Flaws in 2016: An Update

From November 2015 to October 2016, I paid for car insurance on a car that I didn’t own.

Cars 2

At the end of last year, I said that in 2016 part of my best self would be making mistakes. So, let’s start with the dumbest thing I did this year.

Embracing My Flaws in 2016

As I stated in my previous article, I donated a car that I inherited from my father to Wheels for Wishes, a charity that benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation. What I didn’t mention is that, when they towed the car away, I forgot to take the license plates off. Here’s a fun fact! You can’t cancel your car insurance without turning in the license plates. Here’s another fun fact! If you don’t have your license plates because you forgot to take them off of the car you donated and the donation place said they would mail you the plates and you never received them, you have to file a police report for lost or stolen plates. Here’s yet another fun fact! I am a huge procrastinator.

I let this sit for far too long and when I finally got around to taking care of it, the police were less than impressed. Let me just take you through the interaction I had with the police officer at my local precinct in Brooklyn (which just so happens to be the exterior shot for the Brooklyn 99 precinct, a fact I’m sure only I find cool).

Officer: “So, you didn’t take the plates off the car when you donated it?”

Me: “No.”

Officer: “Why?”

Me: “Because I’m stupid.”

Officer: “Okay, so, you don’t have the plates because you left them on the car?”

Me: “Correct.”

Officer: “You didn’t think to take them off?”

Me: “No.”

Officer: “And why is that?”

Me: “Because I’m stupid.”

I’ll interject here to mention that the officer was clearly enjoying my saying, “because I’m stupid” and through his thinly veiled smirk, I believe he wanted to steer the conversation in that direction.

Officer: “Okay, so, you’re here why?”

Me: “Because I need a police report stating that they’re stolen.”

Officer: “The plates.”

Me: “Right.”

Officer: “That you forgot to take off of the car.”

Me: “Right.”

Officer: “And you forgot why?”

Me: “Because I’m stupid.”

This conversation at the police precinct occurred in October of this year. I donated the car in November of last year. So, from November 2015 to October 2016, I paid for car insurance on a car that I didn’t own. I’d rather not talk totals but suffice it to say, as a freelancer, I shouldn’t be wasting money.

I intended for my mistakes to be learning experiences but I’m still trying really hard to squeeze the lesson from this one.

Ultimately, though, my wish for 2016 was to be in control of whatever I did with my money and career. In that respect, I think I’ve done well.

I finally rolled over my 401(k) from my last full time job… that I left in 2014. As stated in the fun facts above, I am a procrastinator.

I left a contract job in June to focus on writing, auditioning, and improv. I have yet to book anything but part of being my best self was taking some risks (yeah, I know, it was “making mistakes,” just let me phrase it differently for now).

In the spring I got several notifications on LinkedIn. They were from old co-workers saying congrats on the work anniversary to which I thought, “What work anniversary?” I was in the middle of a contract job, so, the anniversary couldn’t have been for that.

Then I looked at my profile and I realized that I had entered “freelancer” as my current position when I left my last full time job. They were congratulating me on my two year anniversary of being a freelancer and, while I rarely look to LinkedIn for anything much less a boost for my self esteem, it actually felt kind of cool.

Now look, at the time, I was working a job that was a essentially a full time, minus mandatory attendance at company wide meetings and, regrettably, health insurance. But still, in the two years since I had left my job, I hadn’t gone right back to a full time job out of fear and I also hadn’t ended up homeless on the street. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not too bad.

I may not be my most successful self but I’m in control of all of my decisions and their consequences and I’m moving forward. That’s the closest I can be to my best self.

But the license plates thing, man, that was just dumb.

Rob Penty is an improviser, storyteller, writer, and web developer living in Brooklyn. Check out his blog.

This article is an update to The Billfold’s 2015 end-of-year series, “Our Best Selves in the Coming Year.”

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