Reverb11 prompt: Fear
The Reverb11 prompt I’ve chosen for today’s post comes from Coach Jennie a.k.a. @CoachJennie, on Twitter, in case you’d like to follow her there.
Fear: If you could take a pill to *cure* just one of your fears from 2011, which one would you choose + why?
If I could cure one of my fears by taking a pill, I would cure my fear of driving. This is something I’ve struggled with for years, and while I’ve made progress, I’ve still got a long way to go.
For years, I was afraid to drive a car, but in 2005, I got my driver’s license. It wasn’t easy, but thanks to an extremely patient friend, I finally confronted this phobia.
With Alix as my teacher, learning to drive was exhilarating and fun. We laughed constantly, which was a helpful distraction. During one of our first lessons, a cop pulled me over – for driving too slowly! Even then, Alix and I could not keep a straight face. We were deep in the “giggle zone” and found it hysterical when the police officer explained that he had expected to find an intoxicated driver at the wheel, not a couple of laughing ladies.
Luckily, I didn’t get a ticket. This was a small town, and the cop was a regular at the coffeehouse where I worked. After that, when he’d come in for his daily jolt of caffeine, he’d often tease that, “The next time I pull you over it will be for a speeding ticket,” implying, of course, that I would soon be quite comfortable behind the wheel.
That’s exactly what I expected, too. Even though I’ve seen the “Wizard of Oz” enough times to know that a piece of paper does not impart a specific quality to its bearer, I stupidly assumed that merely having my driver’s license would banish my fear of driving once and for all. I didn’t expect to turn into Mario Andretti, but I figured that driving would become routine.
The more I drove around my little town, the more I got used to it – but only up to a point. I am still very nervous with highway driving. Moving to big city threw me out of balance, too. I felt like I was playing a video game at too difficult of a level. I wanted to bump it down a notch, but that was impossible.
Without Alix around to keep me laughing, I had to find a new distraction from my fear. Wearing a digital camera around my neck while I drove helped a lot. This kicked my creative side into gear, so that – instead of overthinking every move I made while driving – my mind was busy seeking interesting compositions. (Somewhere I have a bunch of photographs of bumpers, red lights and stop signs from this time period.)
Falling out of practice
My next move, however, took me to Naples, Italy. In a country of wild drivers, Naples is known for being especially insane. Just walking across the street in that city is a death-defying feat. Driving there was out of the question, especially for me.
Unlike America, where getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage for teenagers, I met plenty of Italians who don’t drive. I found it amusing that after years of shocking Americans by not having a driver’s license, I was suddenly impressing Italians by having one.
But don’t you want your freedom?
Back in the United States, when people found out I didn’t have a driver’s license they were often appalled, even confused. “You’re kidding!” they’d exclaim, before adding, “But don’t you want your freedom?”
I find it strange how, in America at least, the concepts of driving and freedom go hand in hand. I even remember a car jingle that went, “It’s not just your car, it’s your freedom.” I don’t want to get too off-topic here, so I’ll save my definition of freedom for another day, but, frankly, I think my passport has given me much more freedom than my driver’s license ever has.
Years of shame & embarrassment
I’d also like to mention that my fear of driving is not something I like to admit. People rarely understand, and it’s just embarrassing. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s good to keep things that trigger shame hidden away, either. It just adds power to that shame. So, for the sake of Reverb11, I’m going public with it.
I still don’t know why I’ve got this phobia
One thing I haven’t completely nailed down is why I have this driving phobia. What’s at the root of this fear, I often wonder, and does it even matter at this point?
As I admitted when I blogged about test driving an electric car, I am not a car person in much the same way that other folks might claim not to be a “cat person,” or to dislike sports. As Austin Powers might say, “Cars just aren’t my bag, baby.”
Nor do I get the concept of, “judging a man by his car,” although it’s a recurring theme in American movies and TV shows. A guy once picked me up for a date then became extremely insulted because I didn’t compliment him on the fancy-schmancy sports car he was driving. To me, it was just a car.
In fact, the only time I’ve been impressed by a man’s vehicle was when my now-husband picked me up in his Honda Insight. I found it so cool that he chose a hybrid, one that averages 72 miles per gallon. Smart, responsible, better for the environment, to me, at least = sexy!
And then came Texas
So here’s the state of my driving phobia in 2011. I haven’t driven since moving to Texas in the fall of 2009. Why? For starters, the only car we have is a stick-shift. This wouldn’t be so bad if we lived in a small town, but the way our area is set out, you have to hop onto the highway to get anywhere. Even with a camera around my neck the combination of highway driving and a manual transmission bumps me up too many levels in this particular video game.
That said, I would like to whittle away at my driving phobia in 2012. I don’t have a strategy yet. At this point, I am merely putting the thought out there. I’ll keep you posted!
What are your fears?
What about you? Do you have any fears that you plan to conquer, or at least tame, in the coming year? What are your strategies for dismantling them? Does any fear or shame surround your fear? If so, how do you deal with this?
What is #Reverb11?
#Reverb11, #Resound11 and #Relish11 are just a few names for a fun end of the year project that mindful bloggers all over the world are participating in. Each day in December, folks choose a prompt from one of several lists, then use that as a launchpad to express themselves on their blog. The prompts are especially geared towards reflecting back on 2011 and paving the way towards a better 2012.
Everyone is welcome to join in. If you don’t have a blog, respond to the prompts offline through journaling, painting or whatever direction your inspiration takes you!