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Damn, this traffic jam...and everything else

How stressed can I get - is it traffic?

Driving at 9:15am in Los Angeles is always serious business. It requires patience. At a stoplight right before getting on the highway & into traffic, I quickly looked down at the GPS on my phone. As the light turned green I heard honking. WTF? The driver in front of me had just started moving. For a split second I thought of sending him a hand gesture as a goodbye gift. I laughed and let it go.

Twenty minutes later, I was slowing down on Santa Monica Boulevard for a pedestrian. Drivers generally stop at crosswalks when the light is blinking. The car to my right zoomed ahead so he wouldn't have to stop before the pedestrian finished crossing the street. Ten seconds later I was beside him as we both waited for the the red light to turn green .

After the doctor's appointment I headed to West Hollywood to work with my scene partner before acting class. I was early so I stopped by my new favorite Chinese restaurant a few blocks away; I've discovered their version of egg drop soup is one of the best in the city. The young lady at the front said "I'm sorry but they'll be a wait of about 15 minutes; they're preparing a large order. " A guy behind me said, "But I already placed my order. When is it going to be ready?" His sing-songy voice clearly indicated he was pissed off.

Maybe it's not all about traffic

What was going on? It was a nice day, I felt great. Why was I a witness to so much stress and annoyance in such a short period of time? Was this behavior the new normal? Then I realized, it was because I was in a good mood, I could listen and observe the behavior instead of getting in the middle of it. This was a sign for me to see what my behavior looks like when I'm not having a good day, when I honk my horn or I'm impatient with a server in a restaurant. It's subtle and I'm usually not aware of it until later. But when I'm stressed and act like that, it's reflected in the server's face, the driver's face, the pedestrian's face.

Yes, a lot has happened in our world. But does that give the collective 'us' the right to act out for no reason? On the flip side, when a person is snippy, or downright rude to me, do I need to react to them to settle the score, like the guy who honked at me? No. It's their state of mind in the moment, not mine. The next time that occurs--because it will--I need to take a deep breath from my belly.

I hung some tips on my wall recently that you'll find in the article below. The next time I feel a stressful day coming on, I can refer to them instead of acting out and inadvertently hurting someone's feelings in the process.

I have fond memories of the queen of angry, stressed out bitches: Cristina Quijano in 'Eternamente Manuela.' She was awesome to play onscreen. That's where she belongs 😉

For tips to keeping calm under stress:

Pilar Uribe
Pilar Uribe is an actor and voice talent, known for Yo soy Betty, la fea (1999), Wonderguy (1993) and Second Extinction (2020). Catch Pilar in video games, feature films, and tv shows + follow on Instagram and YouTube for more...


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