This post is about fear, my current self-imposed challenge, anxiety and growth.
So you know those personal development quotes about magic happening outside of your comfort zone? Is that a cliche? Sure. But is it also true? I think so.
I’m currently blogging to vent some of my anxiety about getting in my car tomorrow, driving about 0.7 miles, just to get my car washed. A simple task for many, but a stretch outside of my own comfort zone.
For many years I had an intense fear of driving. It wasn’t always scary to me. In fact when I first started out I loved to drive. It gave me a sense of freedom that I had only dreamed about before I passed my test. But after a few beginner’s bumps and scrapes made into a big deal by a controlling boyfriend, followed by years with another partner who undermined me totally, my confidence was in tatters.
But this is not all about it being somebody else’s fault. I recognised that I had allowed this thought pattern into my belief system. And I also recognised that I was letting myself down by living in my fear-based comfort zone.
I really wanted to get back that feeling of freedom that I used to enjoy. I also really wanted to shake off the ghosts of my exes who had told me I was a bad driver. Plus, I’d had enough of trains; being coughed on by strangers in flu season, screaming kids, and, well, screaming kids is quite enough really!
So I started last summer by finding a driving instructor willing to take a panicky driver, who not only cried when exceeding 40mph – me, not the instructor, but who also wasn’t as lucrative since I wouldn’t need to take my test again. And I found a great teacher! We went through Pass Plus training in September, not that I officially needed it, I just wanted something on paper. It was psychological. I now have a piece of paper from the DVLA that says I had extra lessons, and that gave me a boost.
My instructor’s parting advice to me was to get a little second-hand car so I could drive every day and get my confidence back. So last week I bought a 1.0 litre Corsa from a work buddy. I must say it was a relief to buy from a friendly face, as I was shaking when I turned up for the test drive. I had to do a few doughnuts in a cul-de-sac before I was ready to pull out into traffic.
Welcome to gut-churning anxiety, population – me.
So I’ve managed two drives since I got Bambi. Yes, I named her. No, I’m not sorry. It actually makes me feel better to give her a Disney name. I don’t know why exactly, but it works for me.
Drive number one was a tough call. I had to get from Pinner to Stratford – so, London roads. Fab. My boyfriend came along for moral support and for navigation. I didn’t trust myself to be able to follow a sat nav or road signs when I was too scared to blink, let alone turn my gaze away from the road…. don’t worry, I was checking my mirrors. I just couldn’t attend to anything else, like blinking.
Drive number two was a solo mission – Stratford to Folkestone, about 75 miles. My original plan had been to make it all the way to Folkestone on day one, but that was an over-stretch and I’m glad I didn’t attempt it.
So my current concern is around what is a ‘healthy’ amount of challenge, and what is an over-stretch. I feel like I have really stretched my boundaries this last week, and the negative voice in my head is telling me not to push my luck. I need to rely on my judgment here to tell me how much to go for it and drive around, and how much to hold back and take baby steps.
Even going to the car wash tomorrow makes me nervous. And that’s rather surprising when I just drove myself home from London 24 hours ago. So what is going on here? Is this voice in my head/anxiety in my gut a warning from the universe, or the evil monkey in my mind?
Ultimately, this is about personal growth. The magic does happen outside of the comfort zone. It’s not pretty, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it. I guess these are growing pains. I still feel anxious, and there is still a monkey running around inside my head. But I will drive to the car wash tomorrow because I have come this far and I can keep going. And I will remember to blink this time.
I will keep you updated on my progress!
An Elective Orphan x