I’ve mentioned it on this blog before, but I used to be deathly scared of driving.
I grew up in New York City, where driving wasn’t really necessary ~ the subway was my comfort zone. So when it was finally necessary for me to get behind the wheel, I felt paralyzed.
I’d get in the car, turn on the engine and immediately feel my heart racing. No matter how much I practiced, I just couldn’t shake that feeling. I’ve even had to pull over on the side of the highway in panic. My fears were humiliating and this phobia lasted for years.
Things are so different now… I now drive my four-year-old daughter back and forth to her new school in the city almost every day. No longer in the comfort of our tranquil neighborhood, I’m forced to zip down speeding highways, drive alongside risk-taking NYC taxi drivers and navigate throngs of rushing pedestrians glued to their cell phones.
It’d be enough to send my phobia into a full-blown panic attack, daily.
But lately, I find myself enjoying the ride…
Instead of obsessing over the speeding cars and aggressive road rage drivers, like I used to, I suddenly feel a strange sense of community and oneness on the road.
The turn signals in front of me seem to say…
“I know you’re there, I’m thinking of you, I won’t surprise you.”
The cars that slow down, to let me merge into their lane say…
“I got you, you need to get in, let me help you.”
The brake lights before me say…
“We’re in this together. I trust you. Let’s not let each other down.”
Instead of anxiously obsessing over how close each car feels when it’s zipping by me, I find myself focusing on how beautiful the trees are that line the endless stretch of highway and how lovely the neighborhoods full of brownstones are as I enter the city streets.
And instead of feeling completely out of control behind the wheel like I once did, I feel empowered by all the choices I get to make.
I can choose which lanes I take, which streets I follow, which speed I accelerate to.
I can be the one who slows down to let someone merge in. I can be the one who waits patiently as pedestrians cross. I can be the one who lets the other drivers know that I see them, I’m thinking of them and I won’t let them down.
Instead of feeling like the road and all its drivers are out to get me and cause me harm, I find myself feeling like the road is confirming that we are all one, in this life together, doing the best we can to make our way to different destinations. Yes, there are risks involved, but there is beauty too.
There is so much beauty in the things we fear the most. But we forget to look for it.
When I first started blogging, years ago, I initially had a travel blog. Blogging was so new to me and putting myself out there online felt insanely frightening. But yet, something called for me to do it.
Though I loved to write, I’d obsess over silly things like unsubscribes, fear of negative feedback, and saying something stupid. I worried that those who read my words might try to hurt me with them in some way. I worried that no one would read anything I wrote. I worried that it would all be a huge waste of time.
But with time and practice, I’ve come to see that if I had only focused on those worries, I would have missed all the beauty.
I would have missed learning what it feels like to constantly step out of my comfort zone, and be okay.
I would have missed how much joy I get from putting words on a page.
And I would have missed all of the beautiful connections with readers and emails and comments that say things like…
“Brings tears to my eyes to know that someone out there feels like I feel, and can put these feelings into words of encouragement. Thank you.”
“From the bottom of my heart … THANK YOU!!! For the first time in my almost 44 years, you have helped me to see and understand and appreciate myself more than I ever dreamed possible. I have been lost, and have felt so much guilt, shame and insecurity for most of my life … But finding your beautiful website yesterday has made me so happy and helped me feel total relief. I am excited and looking forward to my future more than ever before.”
“Thank you so much for the amount of time you have dedicated in making your voice, opinion, and feelings heard. Thank you so much for the commitment you have in honoring yourself… Thank you for your posts – every single one. I know the online world of blogging is vast and often people stumble upon really personal articles written and then move on. But I wanted to tell you that I read your posts and they really meant a lot to me and today I’ll carry with me the knowledge that someone else out there understands.”
“I can’t begin to tell you on how many occasions I have re-read your posts when I’m feeling down or upset at myself for being ‘too sensitive’. However, after I read your wise words and beautiful, comforting language, it makes me feel so much better about myself and who I am.”
I started blogging on self-improvement topics because I wanted to make at least one person feel better about themselves than I used to feel about myself. I wanted to instill just a little bit of confidence in someone who was struggling with their self-esteem because I know exactly what it’s like to endure that agonizing struggle.
And though the thought of writing online horrified me (and often still does), and though I do sometimes get hurtful feedback, I bravely do it anyway. Because along the way, beautiful things happen…
We Can Bravely Do Scary Things
If there’s anything in your life that you’ve longed to do or that you simply need to do, but you feel afraid and consumed with worry, anxiety, and stress, make a list of all the beautiful things that could happen along the way as you pursue that action.
Forget about the end goal for a minute… When I was first learning to drive, I just wanted to make it home safely. That’s all I thought about, I was consumed with the finish line. So I spent the entire drive anxiously clenching the steering wheel and counting down the miles till I made it back safely. And my anxiety never subsided.
Now, I don’t think about the finish line. I put on some music, or a podcast, and enjoy the beauty of the ride. And that allows my anxiety to take a back seat. Now, whenever I feel scared of pursuing something, I look for the beauty, and it carries me forward.
What might you enjoy as you pursue the things that’s causing you fear or anxiety?
What have you been forgetting to look for as you anxiously focus on the finish line?
What beauty might you see or feel? How might you grow? How might you help others to grow?
Look for the beauty. And you will be brave.
FREE WORKSHEET: I love worksheets, pretty paper and journal prompts, so I created a worksheet for you in case you want to work through the process of tackling something that brings you fear and anxiety – CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD.
Free Resource Library
Want to live confidently and peacefully as a sensitive soul?
Sign up and gain access to my free library of e-books, pdfs and other resources to help empower you.