Perception | My Passport Expired and I Didn't Find Out Until I was at the Check In Counter

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A few years back my husband and I were on our yearly vacation; this time it was Asia. We had enjoyed a week in Hong Kong and planned to visit the Philippines for the last leg of our trip.  Upon arriving to the check in desk at the airport, I was told I couldn’t travel due to my passport. The Philippines are one of many countries that will not permit a traveler to enter unless a passport expires 6 months after the final day of travel, and my passport was expiring in 2 months.

...I was devastated… couldn’t stop crying

Here we were bags in tow, ready to hit the islands that I had been researching and anticipating visiting for months.  The weight of my mistake had me floored and I couldn’t stop crying. How could I have made such a colossal mistake? I am usually the organized one with my husband owning the brunt of such mistakes.

When he has made mistakes of this magnitude previously, I made sure he knew he was at fault and never let him live it down.  I am usually the one making him feel miserable, not feeling miserable myself. In those situations our connection turns for the worst because we argue, get upset and focus on the negatives of what went wrong.  I expected him to react as I would have had he made the same mistake. I was waiting for him to lose his shit.

That’s when he completely surprised me by being calm and positive about the situation. I was so upset that I couldn’t comprehend how he kept calm when we were out thousands and had to forfeit our reservations for the rest of our trip.  He quickly moved into solution mode and almost immediately started looking up options for getting a Canadian passport renewed in Hong Kong. While I was still rubbing my eyes and feeling the dread in my gut, he got us a taxi and we were well on our way to the Canadian embassy.

Not until completing the new passport application and figuring out a place to stay while waiting for the new one, did we finally stop to talk about what happened. I again asked why he was so calm when he reminded me of his mantra of focusing positives even when blinded by the onslaught of negatives from a situation. This was a situation that happened and we couldn’t change in the moment. We were only able to focus on the solutions because we weren’t spending time lamenting on the mistake. I projected my normal reaction on him expecting the same however, instead got a lesson in the power of positive thinking.

We did finally end up in the Philippines relaxing on a beach, though the trip became one of personal growth. Understanding how my negative approach, historically punitive, impacted our experience as opposed to how the positive approach could make our overall experience more memorable. I got to understand him more and we became closer because of how we tackled the problem together.

Not everything will go right in life, and none of us are infallible. We will all make mistakes and being more accepting of ourselves and each other while taking the positive approach to controlling what we can, will pretty much increase our happiness when stumbling over bumps in the road.

We ended up with 4 wonderful extra days in Hong Kong seeing more of the city than originally planned, including a trip to Disneyland, often called the Happiest Place on Earth. I learned a valuable lesson: everything doesn’t have to play out as expected and can still be a great experience if you let it.

What are your immediate reactions and mindset when facing a problem?   

xo- Tas Goel aka Mindful Mom

To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions. – Stephen R. Covey
Chrissy Abram