“Do one thing every day that scares you.” - Eleanor Roosevelt. Well I think I did yesterday, I drove for the first time since the accident. Fear is a funny thing. For many it’s paralyzing, others are able to cope with it and deal with situations, and for some they gloss over it like it’s no big deal. I don’t know what category I fit into, but I do know that fear and I don’t get along. As a matter of fact, I hate fear, but I deal with it often. This wasn’t my first car accident. I won’t go into details but I have been in an accident before, this one was by far the worst accident though. This was the first accident that I’ve been injured in, and I think it messed with my head a little more than the other. Sure I’ve had bruises, but compared to two broken bones, bruises are a walk in the park.
Unlike many sixteen year olds I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was almost 18. As a matter of fact I’m a gearhead now (car lover) but I really didn’t begin to like cars until I was in college. Even then it began as a love of motorcycles, not cars. When I was a teen I didn’t see the point in getting my license. I did get hurt and was unable to learn to drive for some time when I was 16, but since I didn’t have access to a car, couldn’t afford one, and had nowhere to go I didn’t really feel the need to learn to drive. Finally my Senior year of high school my parents carpooled to work, and allowed me to drive the other family car. I got my license after my second try at the drivers test, I failed parallel parking the first time, and I gained my freedom. I didn’t love driving though, I loved the fact that it allowed me to hang out with my friends more, and in an age before cell phones I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to get a hold of someone for ride home. I just have never felt safe behind the wheel of a car. My dad used to remind me a lot that I was in control of a one ton death machine…not comforting dad! It was more than that though.
I have to drive. I don’t live somewhere with a wonderful public transit system, and unless I want to impose on others for the rest of my life, I have to face my driving fear almost daily. I’m able to function, I’m not overly cautious behind the wheel which can be worse, and I’m not reckless. I still tend to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time though. Murphy and I need to have a talk about his law. Every time I have to slam on my brakes, or someone creeps into my blind spot and I didn’t know they were there I admit that my heart jumps into my throat. I still get into my car almost daily though and drive to where I need to go.
After my most recent accident I had a breakdown, several actually. One of the things I broke down about was the fact that I didn’t want to drive anymore. I joke about it with friends and family, because maybe that’s how I cope with my fear is though humor, but I tell them that one day I am going to die in a car accident. The fact is that I don’t just joke about that, it's an honest fear that I worry will on day be true. During my breakdowns my friends and family tried to calm me down about driving. They reminded me that I can’t let my fear take over and prevent me from driving, because if I allowed that to happen with one aspect of my life then I’m telling myself that it’s okay to allow the fear to take over other aspects of my life as well. I also had a friend tell me they’d install a 5-point harness in my car so I would be safer (This is why I LOVE my friends!). I can’t allow my fear of driving stop me from doing it. I’m afraid of how my life will be forever different by changing my habits and living healthier, but I’m not allowing that fear to take over because I know that what I’m doing is good for me. Driving is good for me too, otherwise I’m just going to stay in my house all the time and be sad.
I may never be able to fully deal with my fear of snakes, heights, or the donut burger at the State Fair, but I can deal with my fear of driving. My bones will heal, the car can be repaired, no one else was hurt, traffic citations can be paid, and the insurance companies will eventually leave me alone and settle this, nothing is permanent. I can deal with this fear, and challenge myself to take on my fears and not let them control my life, I will control my own life. So yesterday getting behind the wheel of my car was a big deal. My hand hurt…and my mother being a backseat driver didn’t help, but I made it to my destination and back safely. It really wasn’t a big deal, but it felt like it should have been because of the fear I had allowed to take over.
So I leave you with a challenge, what scares you? Attack it! I got back behind the wheel of a car and drove, and little by little my fear of driving will subside again as I push it back and prevent it from controlling me. I challenge you to take on a fear, it doesn’t have to be a big fear, maybe just a little one to start with, but take it on. Like I was reminded by my friends I remind you, if you allow one fear to take over your life, what’s holding back the other fears from taking over as well? Don’t let that happen, don’t live in fear. This month I’m taking on driving, next month I plan to take on moving to a new place where I have no friends and don’t have a job. Look out Colorado, lol! =)