I had to drive to “the city” yesterday to run an errand. For the past few years, I haven’t been able to drive in the city comfortably. It’s a new phenomenon in my life. I’ve lived in, frequented, and driven in cities my entire life – from LA to New York. But something happened a few years ago. This article will explore how to build confidence in the routine challenges of life when you discover you’ve unexpectedly lost it somewhere.
A Story About Driving In Traffic
It was subtle. Among other weird life changes, I found myself afraid to drive in a city, any city.
I was no longer comfortable with the pace, the navigation, and the necessary focus and maneuvering city driving requires. I got lost, turned around, and was timider on the road. Basically, I had become every other driver’s worst nightmare. WTH? I lost my ability to drive?! Before you think I acquired some neurological disorder, stick with me and read on.
Did I mention I previously lived in this particular city for 20 years? I remember consciously wondering what the hell happened because it felt like I was 90 years old (or what I thought being 90 would feel like) and that scared the bejinkers out of me. As a result of acquiring this new fear, I have avoided driving to or in any city for the past couple of years.
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Avoidance Is Not The Answer
Because that’s what we do when something scares us. We avoid it, right?
We do everything in our power to NOT have to address, confront, or deal with it.
It’s human nature.
But yesterday was different.
I drove to the city, ran my initial errand (returning shoes), and as I walked into the shoe store, I consciously realized I was standing a little taller, looking people in the eyes, even, *gasp,* being friendly. I looked around and felt like I belonged – I was dressed appropriately and looked like this was a store I’d frequent. I felt like I deserved to be there. That seems like it should be obvious (since I did actually purchase something from this store) but it’s not.
I haven’t felt like I belonged anywhere for the past few years. And that has resulted in my buying everything online and having it delivered to my house. It was an anomaly that I would choose to return the shoes in person – normally I’d ship them back.
As I walked back to my car I realized I wasn’t scared at all, of driving, of people, or of judgment. I felt confident I could get anywhere I needed to go. As a matter of fact, I was like, hey, why not go a few other places while I’m here? I could go to all my favorite shopping places, hell I could go to the art museum!
For the first time in a long time, I felt like I deserved to be there. And when I drove, I drove with confidence to my destinations. I could merge again, change lanes, navigate traffic – and all without acting like a 16-year-old just getting my driver’s permit! It was such an empowering feeling!
A Change Will Do You Good
The past few years for me have been all about transformation. And with transformation comes uncertainty, fear, and insecurity. I spent a complete year or more just dealing with all my past hurts and traumas and then another year trying to figure out who I wanted to be when I grew up, and now it’s like the sun is coming out and the angels are singing!
Here’s the thing – I kept trying to find the old me – the confident, self-assured, kick ass and take names me. But I’ve come to realize my personal transformation included a different, more mature, connected, present, and stronger version of me. The old me is gone but she’s been replaced by an even better version of myself.
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The funny thing is, I didn’t feel insecure over the past two-plus years. I didn’t feel depressed or even consciously “less than.” While I wasn’t happy with the physical changes of being in my late 50’s, I felt pretty self-sufficient and capable. But my actions told another story. I got eyelash extensions. Don’t get me wrong, lots of women have these and that doesn’t mean they are insecure. For me, however, it was about feeling like I didn’t look good “enough”. It was about aging and realizing my features were changing and I was beginning to feel invisible. Another action was I diminished myself and tried to disappear. I didn’t want to be noticed (which is hard to do when you’re a 5’10” woman). This is a bit of an oxymoron since I had eyelash extensions but nobody said we were logical during our transformations. And I moved to the middle of nowhere and quit interacting with, well, anybody. And then there is the whole driving in the city thing. These were just a few of the behaviors I was demonstrating that told a different story than how I believed myself to be.
Insecurity impacts us in both major and subtle ways. It impacts who we interact with and what we talk about. And it impacts big decisions like life partners, jobs, and anything that requires risk. In more subtle ways, it impacts the everyday decisions we make like driving, where we take our walks, and how willing we are to engage in conversation. While I have always been keenly aware of the importance of confidence, I never considered it would impact my ability to drive.
Please don’t read more into this post than is intended. Driving and eyelash extensions were two of the ways insecurity manifested itself in ME. This doesn’t mean everyone that’s uncomfortable driving in a city is insecure and it also doesn’t mean if you aren’t insecure driving in a city, you aren’t struggling with insecurity in other ways.
For the past few months, it has felt like darkness is being lifted and the sun is shining (both figuratively and literally). It’s like I’ve been in this dark place, dealing with my shit, and now it’s time to re-emerge as this new, rested, transformed human being who doesn’t need eyelash extensions and can drive in the city!
Don’t Give Up
But why am I telling you all this? Because I want to remind you of a few things as you continue to grow and learn on this planet. And I want to inspire you to stick it out if you are going through a transformation. Keep trying and you might be surprised to find yourself one day standing a bit taller and feeling like you belong. Here are a few tips I want to leave you with today:
- If you are currently in a stage of darkness, please be assured it will lift eventually.
- Don’t let fear stop you from continuing to try things that are uncomfortable. One day you might try it and it’s not uncomfortable at all! That’s what a growth mindset is – the willingness to keep trying even when you feel like you’ve failed previously.
- Take a look at your behaviors as well as your feelings. Feelings can be fickle. And behaviors can be difficult to analyze. Yet both are worthy of exploring.
- Understand that insecurity can impact you in both small and large ways. Be willing to hear others’ perceptions without relinquishing your power.
- Instead of trying to reclaim a past version of your life, maybe it’s okay to accept a brand-new, upgraded, and better version!
The thing is, even when we may not feel insecure, our actions can say otherwise. And that’s okay. Sometimes we just have to go through some stuff to come out the other side stronger, wiser, and better.
I’m just hanging out here, enjoying my newly discovered confidence and taking care of my shit. If you enjoyed the post, please let me know with a LIKE, and I’d love to hear your experiences and insights in the comments!
Whatever you do, have an amazing day!
The Gritty Guru