Yesterday I drove on not one, not two, but three different motorways – the M25, M3 and M4. Fascinating stuff, I know.
I’m sure that this will be no big deal to most of you but I am quite a nervous driver on any road and a VERY NERVOUS driver on motorways.
‘Hard shoulders’, ‘slip lanes’, overtaking… I feel like I’m in some sort of computer game that I don’t want to be in – a game in which death is only one dodgy lane move away.
And because I’ve lived in London most of my life, without a car, I haven’t ever had to face my fear. Now I’m back in the burbs, it would make life a lot easier if I could get over it. So yesterday I drove to my friend in East Sheen, instead of taking the train as I usually would.
My heart was beating hard the whole time and I didn’t go above 60 (sorry to everyone behind me) – but I did it. I even went into fifth gear. I felt like The Stig.
And when my car started making funny rattling noises (it’s very old and battered) I didn’t panic. I told myself that if it broke down and I had to spend four hours on the side of the road, ‘I’d handle it.’
I got to my friend’s house without so much as a scrape, dent or near miss. And I got home again too.
And that’s it – not very dramatic but I think it’s these little fears that eat away at our day-to-day lives.
In Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, Jeffers says that even tiny steps out of your comfort zone are important. She says they help to make you feel strong, confident and take you from a position of ‘pain’ to ‘power.’ It’s true. I felt quite chuffed with myself when I got home last night. All grown up. I even did that stupid thing of swinging the car keys around my fingers, like I was a busy man with places to go. Ha!
Jeffers argues that avoiding little things that make us nervous has quite a big effect on our confidence, without us even realising it.
Putting off motorways, opening bank statements, picking up the phone, adds to a sense, in our minds, that the world is scary and that we can’t cope. And this feeling affects everything. Conversely by facing up to these little things, it’s quite easy to feel empowered and in control.
So I’m going to drive to Brighton on Saturday and make sure I hit a motorway at least once a week from now on. I’ll be on Top Gear before you know it. I might even get out of the slow lane.
PS This will be my last driving/parking related post, I promise.