Advice to My Younger Self |Shirley Coffey

Lessons From a Retired Trucker
By: Shirley Coffey

Becoming a truck driver was and still is the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve been able to see the country and get paid for it. I’ve made dozens of friends,
mastered a profession that is dominated by men, and gained a great deal of respect for myself and what I can do. I’m retired now and living in San Antonio, Texas.

As the years have gone by, I have learned what most people say when they get older. “I should have listened to my parents.” If I could sit down with myself at 17 years old, I’d read myself the riot act. Berate myself for being so stupid and for not listening to some of the best advice I’ve ever received. Take me and shake me until my teeth rattled. Put my finger in my face and shake it vigorously.  What would I say? I would tell myself to listen to my parents. They’ve been in many similar situations and know the consequences. Don’t just “hear” their words. Really listen to their advice. Take that advice and apply it to what is going on in my life. Don’t shrug it off. Don’t tell them they “don’t know what they’re talking about.” They know.

Listen to financial advice. Pay my bills on time every time. In the long run, I’ll be in better shape. Save my money, plan for the future. There will be times of unemployment and short paydays. Every penny, nickel, and dime will add up over time. Don’t think I have to spend the money just because it’s in my pocket. Always ask “will my world end if I don’t buy that purse, will I die if I don’t buy this or that?” Make that part of my mantra every single day.

Let go of the past. Harboring a grudge does nothing but keep a painful memory alive giving that memory power over me. A painful memory is like an open wound that never heals. Forgive slights. (At 65, I’ve forgiven those who caused me hurt over the years and those who bullied me in high school have actually become friends with whom I share laughter.)

This one, I suppose, should really be number one. Always be positive. Find something good every single day of your life. It can be something as simple as a clear blue sky or as relieving as getting your load safely to its destination. Don’t let others negativity cloud your life. Don’t worry excessively. Take your worries, write them down on a piece of paper, then take that piece of paper out once a day and worry over everything just as hard as you can worry for one hour. Then put that piece of paper away and don’t think about it again for that day. Do the same thing the next day and the next and the next. You’ll find you worry less as time goes by. If that doesn’t help, ask yourself the following questions. Does worrying change the situation? Does worrying offer a solution to the problem? Does worrying make you feel better?

Take responsibility for your own actions. Don’t make excuses for what you did or said. Tell the truth always. If you tell the truth, you’ll never have to struggle to remember what you said. If you lie, you’ll never tell the same story twice. It will always be different. Be honest and up front in all you do. But be tactful if you have to tell a friend or relative a hard truth. Temper your honesty with compassion. Keep your promises. But, if you can’t, be honest about why you can’t. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. A pattern of broken promises will show you untrustworthy by friends and family.

There is so much I wish I could go back and change. So many things I would undo if I could. So many people I would make amends with if I could find them or if they were still among the living.

I’ve taken my life and turned it around by being the person I wish I had been so many years ago. I’m happy, positive, and responsible.

About Shirley:

Shirley is a retired, after 15 years of being a truck driver and a Texan native. Shirley is a member of theLady Truckers Network and speak to women about trucking as an alternative work style. She leaves her email address: for those who have any questions about her life as a trucker or her blog in general!

Shirley Coffey Blog