After 5 weeks in the UK we finally have a car! Several hours of trains, buses and my own aching feet are behind me at last. However, with the relief comes... terror. I have to learn how to drive all over again. When I first learned in the US, more than 20 years ago now, my mantra was always, "If you're on the right, you're in the right." Left side of the vehicle, right side of the road. That mantra will get me killed over here (note to self: check life insurance rates!).
But, rewiring my driving brain is a necessary and worthwhile challenge. It was vital to drive alone at least my first time out, lest the distraction of my children break my concentration for even a moment. With my trusty GPS on the dash, I decided to attempt a route I was relatively familiar with - from home to school. After 5 taxi rides I was comfortable enough to ignore the GPS at the start and take the way I wanted.
I probably looked crazy, talking to myself and giddy with anxiety. "I'm sitting on the right, driving on the left." I kept repeating this. Driving in a straight line was easy enough, turning left was a breeze, but turning right scared me. I was sure I would turn right and then continue on in the right (which is the wrong) lane. But I didn't. And for whatever mistakes I made, there's a big "P - New Driver" decal on both the front and back of the car to explain them. Embarrassing and comforting at the same time.
I don't think my heart ever left my throat. It's back there just writing about it. The roads are narrow, there is usually a curb and plenty of speeding deterrents, so you really have to pay attention. I've got pretty good spatial awareness, but not from that side of the car! It just feels strange.
Yet, I made it without incident (OK, I hit the curb once, but no damage done). Today I went out again with The Boy and I messed up a confusing roundabout, but didn't crash, so there. Roundabouts are huge and terrifying, but fortunately there is only one simple one on the way to school and I make the first exit, so it is easy enough.
There's this part of me that shudders at every new challenge, who wants to just run and hide and give into my hermit tendencies, but it's shrinking. There's this other part of me that is growing, blooming with confidence with every "new" thing I tackle. I was nervous to take the train with the kids by myself, but I did it; I was scared I'd get on the wrong bus or get off at the wrong stop, but I tried anyway and I succeeded; and my confidence grew. Now I'm learning to drive in a whole new way, in a completely different environment and it feels amazing.
What do you sort of want to try, but avoid because of fear? Go do it. If you fail, at least you tried. If you succeed you'll feel so good!