I am officially a North Carolina resident. After four visits to register two vehicles at two different DMV offices, I’m never moving again. Even as I celebrate self awareness, I’m not sure if I was overthinking the whole thing or it really was as complicated as my mind made it out to be.
First, it was determining what order I had to do all of the things which is not clearly stated anywhere. I stumbled upon a key detail on a Sunday morning as I was collecting each of the several documents demanded by the state to prove you live here, as if everyone is just dying to register a car in North Carolina. That completely shuffled my schedule.
Then, my car insurance wouldn’t approve the policy without a license. However, you need to prove that you have car insurance to get a license. What they did not make clear is that car insurance in any state would satisfy this criteria. I guess I was overthinking that one.
The final hoop was a trip to two separate DMV offices – one to get a license and one to register a car. The license office opened at 8 and I arrived with my file in hand just a few minutes after the doors were unlocked. They checked my documents at the door – I needed about half of what I brought – and I was sent to a ticket counter. He asked for my information, reviewed the documents, took my picture, then made me look into a machine to tell him the letters at the top and the names of the traffic signs. Easy. I even liked my license picture.
Then began the no good, really bad process. Last Friday, I got up early to go to the registration office to get NC plates for my car and van. I got to the office a few minutes after 8 to realize this particular DMV office doesn’t open until 9. Thankfully, I brought my gym bag so I went and worked out to return about 15 minutes after 9 to see a line wrapped around the building.
As I observed the crowd and the office, I was a little shocked this was a government agency. It looked a little like one of the beach stores in Myrtle Beach with spray paint license plates all over the walls labeled with a letter and number so you can easily order. “Carolina born” and “God is my co-pilot” were a few of the most popular among this crowd.
After overhearing a woman who clearly wasn’t paying attention to the ever growing line behind her share an ambrosia recipe with the attendant, I was up next. As she explained I was missing a document in a very “you’re stupid, I work at the DMV and I know all the answers” tone, I felt that all over “oh no” feeling. I wasn’t prepared. I wasted this whole morning and now I had to come back. Again. I took a deep breath. “Ok, see you next week. I hope you have a Merry Christmas.” I got in the car and moved the “Kat at the DMV” calendar block for what felt like the hundredth time.
A year ago, a moment like this would have sent me into a spin. I would’ve been thrown off for weeks – feeling like I was stupid. That I wasted so much time. I would’ve cursed her, myself, and everyone else in my head until it felt like I would explode. But not today.
I’ve spent all my life working hard for someone else, but over the last year I’ve spent my time working hard on myself, my self awareness, and my reactions to the things I can’t control. News flash: we can’t control anything and this year has proven that to me a million times with tires, rain, and every other kind of mishap you can imagine. As much as I know I have a long way to go, the van forced me past the first mile marker to make things like my fourth trip to a DMV office in less than two weeks a laugh instead of a lingering feeling I was doing everything wrong.
In fact, on my way back I bought myself a celebration donut because I’d officially be a North Carolina resident today. That celebration of this tiny adjustment felt like the greatest gift of all – one I think we can all wrap up for ourselves. That gift is the opportunity to witness self awareness and growth in the moments where you simply did it better than you ever have before. Not perfect. Not setting some artificial finish line that tortures you all year.
It’s the gift of acknowledging the moments that wrecked you before turning into something you feel better about. When you didn’t beat yourself up about being late. That moment where you handled that rude relative in a way that didn’t disrupt your peace. The time you didn’t lose your shit at some child’s parent for being rude.
I’m looking forward to celebrating all the things, but most certainly myself & self awareness for handling situations better than I would have. I hope you do too.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.