Don’t worry; you’re not alone—most, if not all, people hang on tightly to the memories of their first car. We still remember driving to college or to our first job. We look back oh-so fondly on the road trips and on all the memories made with friends and loved ones. And yes, we also remember the moment we realized it was time to let the car go; that we would be both better off with a newer vehicle.
But, as with other “losses” in life, you may also feel some distinct “stages of grief” when the time comes to say goodbye to your motorized baby.
Your car stalls and you find yourself in a transmission repair shop in Salt Lake City or wherever you are passing trough on your great road adventure. You try to deny the fact that this is a major sign and that you may very well have to let go of your car. No, you tell yourself. Your car is going to be okay. It still has a few miles on it. Deep down, you know that spending thousands of dollars on your first car may not be the most practical thing to do—but you do it, anyway.
You are late again for the nth time because your car breaks down. Your boss is frustrated as well. You give the same lame excuse. Your car is dying on you. You are angry at the thought of finally facing the reality that you have to buy a new car. It is not practical to maintain this any longer.
You try to bargain with your car. You’re not going to take it anymore to work. You’re going to take the train or bus on weekdays. You’ll only be using your car for emergencies. You’ll use it only on weekends to take your family to the mall or to the park. This is bargaining. You are trying to bargain with yourself. Of course, you want to keep the car and make this work. Maybe you can keep it and buy a new one for daily use? Do you keep it? Or, do you sell it? Will someone take care of it to the way you would want them to?
Remembering all the times that you and your loved ones spent in the car is making you sad. You get depressed with the thought of selling it. When someone makes an offer, you just want to say no. You look at the old photos. You still vividly remember the first time you held the steering wheel of that car. You took it for a few spins in your old neighborhood before driving to your best friend’s house to show it off. The memories will keep on coming, but you have to fight through it.
Finally, you are at this point. You have come to accept that your very first car can no longer adequately serve your needs. It’s time to look for a new one. You are not exactly excited at the thought. You value this car for sentimental reasons. You know it’s over for your first car. You won’t need to bring it to the repair shop anymore. You say your goodbyes then, resignedly, open that dealership website to pick a new car.
It’s a relief to finally be in a car that won’t stall in the middle of the highway. You’ve gotten over the hump of letting go of your first car. When you need to let go of this second car, the process will be less painful.