Fear Driven: My Long Awaited Counquering of Driving

This is an archived post from 2010.

Last week was truly a monumental one for me. At last, I assembled my bits of courage collected over the last four years and got my driver’s license. Yes, it took me half way through college before achieving this “rite of passage” and, to be frank, I am still in denial.

As a twenty-year-old student active in her community, I somehow bore the humiliation of being a “ride mooch” who couldn’t drive anywhere, but always had to be somewhere. In four years, I have become a master ride-bummer… not necessarily a good thing.

So why did I wait so long?

Pure fear.

When I was sixteen, I was really excited to drive, but also harbored some paranoia thanks to the morbidity of the news. After being told, “If so-and-so can do it, you can!” many a time, I pushed my fear aside and practiced until it was test time.

Regrettably, the only vehicle we had back then was a very large space-shuttle-like van. Now, I’m only 5 feet tall and barely pushing 100 pounds. Practicing in it was difficult; I could barely see over the dash! There was itty bitty me, high up off the ground in a monstrous and clunking beast, trudging down the main road taking up all available space in my lane. I had no leeway. The van stretched back for miles it seemed, and I was unaware of  where it ended and began. I felt like I needed a “caution: wide turn” signal.

The dreaded test time came. It was my first shot. I wore my most comfortable shoes and sported a “driving outfit” worn for comfort and flexibility. I hopped into the big van with my dad in the passenger’s seat, and we drove off for the examination station in the early hours of the morning.

This is where the seed of my fear was planted. Not too far from our house, I decided to go back. My nerves were getting to me, and I decided my shoes would hinder my driving. Overthinking things, I wanted to head home to change them.  Dad told me to pull the clunker into a driveway and turn around to head home, but as I was backing out I went too far and the enormous van crushed the mailbox across the street tearing it clear out of the ground.

There was a loud crash, we dipped into a small ditch, and the van’s rear bumper was stuck to the mangled pole. It wouldn’t budge.  Dad was at a boiling point, and fear and adrenaline took over. I handed over the wheel, and he cleverly maneuvered us away. I was stressed and nervous beyond belief.

‘Do you still want to take the test?” dad asks.

And in disbelief I respond, “Um, I don’t really think I should be on the road… do you?”

He drove us home, and I stormed into the house furious at myself. I don’t know if my dad ever contacted the owners of the mailbox, but that incident was enough to keep me off the road for four years. I was terrified, and the intense fear was punishment enough.

Just last week, I scheduled my first driver’s exam since. Thanks to my boyfriend’s car and a new vehicle purchase by my dad, I was able to practice in cars much more fitting to my size, which made ALL the difference. I got an adequate amount of practice in, scheduled my exam for the afternoon, and I was ready.

I drove to the exam station with my boyfriend, the nerves making their existence known within my stomach. I walked in, they processed me, and then it was show time. It was a humid and rainy day, but as soon as I walked to the car with the examiner, my emotions turned off and I  was on autopilot.

Where I live, we’re required to take a maneuverability test similar to parallel parking. I did this first with ease save for a few bumps of the markers. Then it was time for the road test. We rode into a neighborhood, and I followed his instructions exactly. He marked me off for a few mistakes, but once we rolled back into the exam station parking lot, it was silent.

“You passed!”

Four years of tension and guilt flowed out of me, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I did it.

My newfound independence has been a godsend. Now my passion for volunteering can blossom in ways that were deemed impossible in the past. I’m already dreaming of the near future where I can pick up my “Little” and be the “Big Sister” I’ve always wanted to be. I no longer have an excuse to have “lazy days” every weekend, and I like it.

So instead of taking this common ability to drive for granted, I’m going to take this privilege of mine and share it with those who can benefit from it. Oh, and I won’t pass up the occasional shopping spree either.

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Poetry: Impeccable Arrow

Bursting reveries
wish for your impulsivity
and no promises destitute,
birthing projects missing ends
Exacting words, the only potion
One simple, harmonic motion:
an impeccable arrow in time
aimed and stamped: “future you”,
a message from the past
saying, “I’ll be there”

(Heavily inspired by Danielle LaPorte’s wonderful article on sticking to your word: “The Secret to Success“. A must read!)

A small update…

It’s Friday and the week is over! For me, the days zoomed by and now a little R&R awaits. My family has planned a two-day camping trip at a beautiful lake, and the weatherman says it’s going to be beautiful out there. As there won’t be any posts at Deliciae this weekend, I wanted to leave you with the short, ingenious article linked above.

It’s all about doing what you say you’re going to do, a message my idealistic self should have tattooed on my forehead! I hope you also enjoy my tiny, quickly written poem inspired by said article. (Thanks to Adam Had’em whose poetry inspired me to start posting my own.)

Have a fantastic weekend!

Image found here
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The Dying Meaning of Compassion

homeless man asking for penny or a smileImage by Joey Lawrence

In today’s world, everything is “fat free”. For some reason we still marry “until death do us part” though divorce rates say otherwise, and on the internet we see articles like ‘10 “Amazing” Dog Houses’ or ‘5 “Amazing” Facts About Chocolate’. Are dog houses really all that “amazing”? These words have one thing in common: they have all lost their meaning. Like “liberalist” and even “love”, their overuse and lack of appreciation takes away their specialty. So what about “compassion”?

Media and politicians love to shove this word down the public’s throat, typically after some national disaster.

“Show compassion, buy this shirt and some of your money will go through our agency and (maybe) go towards helping these people in need!” 

Of course this is not what they say, but this is essentially what it is.

“America, we need to have compassion for those affected by this disaster. Send money to this fund!”

When broken down to its Latin roots, “compassion” stands for “co-suffering”, but by today it simply means “to have a personal connection, empathy, and sympathy with those who suffer”. What many fail to realize is, although the government and charitable agencies help the needy, money alone does not reach the poverty of the soul. I believe we need to restore our original meaning of compassion and take a more personal approach to banishing issues like poverty.

While buying a ticket at my local theatre, the cashier asked if wanted to donate a dollar to a children’s fund. I always give to these requests when possible, but being charitable in this way sparks no true compassion – no personal connection. My donation is out of sight and out of mind once I hand it over. I don’t even get to witness the fruits of my generosity. So I forget all about it, and my good deed is given nothing more than it’s own line on my receipt. Is that compassion?

Of course, money is essential in fixing society’s issues, but giving this way seems to have one of two effects on most people. You can give your dollar and go on your way feeling like you’ve done your part, or you give your dollar and never think of it again because you see and feel no benefit – no bliss in helping others. Unfortunately, in dealing with donors on a daily basis, I know all too well how “compassion fatigued” people get when realizing their money has seemingly been thrown into a void.

Monetary donations are good for immediate and temporary fixes, but it’s going to take the crucial role of compassionate individuals to banish these problems for good. Money is not personal, and when we individuals make no personal connection to those suffering with issues like poverty, the real solutions to these tribulations lay stagnant.

So let’s revive the meaning of “compassion”, let’s deal intimately with poverty. If we all realize that those who are impoverished are just as human with just as deep of feelings; if we learn what we all have in common, we can start teaching the world how to react to the visible poor: not by turning a blind eye, but by reaching into the soul of poverty.

I suggest reading this excellent article on cultivating compassion at ZenHabits. Personally my favorite practice is the “commonalities practice” (#3 in the article). In this, Leo Babauta states:

“At the root of it all, we are all human beings. We need food, and shelter, and love. We crave attention, and recognition, and affection, and above all, happiness. Reflect on these commonalities you have with every other human being, and ignore the differences.”

What do you think, readers?


Update…

Sorry folks for the slight delay of today’s post. I went to a cookout the actual day this post was to be done, and must have gotten food posioning because my stomach was acting in revenge for quite some time. I ended up doing a lot of reading on this particular topic of “compassion”, and wound up ordering a book titled, The Tragedy of American Compassion by Marvin Olasky, which seems to touch upon (in depth, of course) the dying meaning of this word. So I may have more to say on this issue once I get this book in my hands, but for now, have a great day and thanks for reading.

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Quotes that have stuck with me

I am guilty of loving and saving inspiring quotes, but never living by them – there are so many out there! But what about those lines that find a way to latch on to you the minute you hear it? The ones that stick with you for years and years?

These sort of lines that stick with us always make life just a little bit easier to handle. Here are the words that have stuck with me, that I apply to many aspects of my life, and those things that I absolutely want to pass to my children when the time comes.

“Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

(Dr. Seuss)

Sure this is a Dr. Seuss quote, but what made it special to me was that a cashier at a store told me this little nugget of truth when I was young. I was with my dad at the register, and I wanted to buy a teddy bear for my boyfriend, but dad was teasing me about it saying it was unnecessary. Then, after checking us out, the cashier said this to me and winked. It really stuck with me ever since.

———–

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

(Maya Angelou)

I’m not sure how I came about this quote, but it’s been written in my diary several times. It helped me to realize that, with a simple change of perspective, you can change your mindset. The mind is a powerful thing. We make our own happiness!

———–

“Reject common sense to make the impossible possible!”

(Gurren Lagann)

Gurren Lagann is an animated show filled with virility. Although it’s centered around battling and mechas, the characters live to “shoot for the stars”. It’s an idealistic and aggressive show filled with daring chutzpah to be the absolute best you can be.

———–

“It goes on.”

(Robert Frost)

Robert Frost says, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life…” I found this in my book of Robert Frost’s poetry and I have it highlighted, circled and bookmarked. And it’s true, out of all that I’ve been through, one thing has stayed true: my life has gone on.

———–

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdFglEm_QuU]

“This too shall pass.”

(Old proverb)

I first heard this line in a beautiful Regina Spektor song called “I Want to Sing”. Regina’s gotten me through a fairly large hurdle in my life, and I recommend her bubbly, jazzy music to anyone who wants a pick-me-up.

———–

“Indulge your imagination in every possible flight.”

(Jane Austen)

While browsing for literary jewelry (yes, I’m a huge nerd), I found a necklace charm with this Jane Austen quote. I love the image of “indulging your imagination” as if it has a body and soul of its own, which sometimes I believe it does! Creativity, adventurousness, and so much more seep from imagination. It is the faculty through which we encounter everything, and what a wonderful thing it is.

———–

“Fake it ’til you make it.”

(Tyra Banks and many others)

Tyra Banks’ America’s Next Top Model is a huge guilty pleasure of mine. It’s laced with tiny delicacies of confidence, beauty, and living your dream. In one episode, Tyra was speaking to a broken-hearted girl, on the edge of giving up her dreams because her lack of confidence. Exhausting all other options of motivating this girl, Tyra tells her to buck up and says, “Oh yeah? Well if you don’t have confidence, just pretend you do. You can fake it ’til you make it!”

———–

“Gain momentum in constant self-improvement.”

This was said by yours truly! It’s my own motto, and I live it day to day. We were all given the ability to improve ourselves, and there are limitless small and large ways to do so. So why not do it constantly? I understand the idea of simply being satisfied with who you are, but self-improvement doesn’t always have to mean changing yourself. There is always more for you to learn, more for you to experience and see, and all of this improves who you are. And once you start improving yourself, keep doing it until you gain momentum like a huge, growing, self-improving snowball!

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More personal ones…

  1. “Making something of yourself like I know you do?” – said to me by an old close friend
  2. “Always be an independent woman, and put your school first. No boys, no marriage, until school.” – my mom’s advice
  3. “Trust me – you don’t need rest to be beautiful.” – from my then boyfriend
  4. “I like your goals. They seem reasonable and I think you can do them all.” – another from the boyfriend
  5. “You walk like a model!” – one of my favorite compliments from a stranger

All of these lines are very special to me, and I hope that sharing them would stick to some of you as well. I tried not to flood it with too many quotes… just the ones that mean the most to me!

Side note…

Many of my readers have been asking for more content, so I’m going to post smaller, easier ones like today’s while I plan out my more meatier, heavier posts. I hope these can keep you occupied and make you think while I draft up the big ones I have planned.

I’ve got an opinionated post on compassion coming up tomorrow, another “Different Perspective” post, and one later that will look into the psychology of imagination.

So keep in touch, readers! And be sure to let me know what lines and meaningful words have stuck with you throughout your life!

Photo credit: ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 )
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