That whole affair reminded me of my own steps to overcome a big fear in my life and the baby steps I took and am still taking. I have a fear of driving, yet I drive every day. It’s the kind of fear that comes with palpitations, sweaty palms, lightheadedness and nausea.
I only discovered this fear seven years ago. Before that, I didn’t drive. I lived in the center of the capital city of a 68 sq. mile country. Everything I needed was within walking distance. When I came to the US I landed in the city with the best public transportation this side of the Atlantic. It was only when I moved to a university town with a pathetic transportation system beyond the university campus that I had the need for a car. And still I didn’t drive. I lived near the university, walked everywhere and utilized the university transit system, excellent for a one mile radius of the university. If I needed to travel outside the university, I waited until my husband, with whom I had a long distance marriage, visited.
Then I had a baby and things changed. After a winter of lifting a heavy stroller over snow heaps on the sidewalks, I decided the dust off my languishing driver’s license and get a car. That’s when I discovered, I was afraid of driving. So like my son, I took baby steps. I drove the car, on a local road with little traffic to the daycare, parked it, and walked to the university. I did that until I was comfortable enough to take the car into heavier traffic. After a while, the palpitations dissipated and I was driving as if it was second nature.
Even when I graduated and joined my husband in a suburb just outside a large city and had to drive in heavy traffic I was fine. As long as I took the local roads, I was fine. Unfortunately I can’t take local roads all the time. When I drove on the highway for the first time and the fear came back with a vengeance. My first impulse was to look for local routes anywhere I went or use my husband as a chauffeur. Instead, I decided to face my fears. I started off by taking the five minute stretch of highway between my workplace, and my daughter’s school. Eventually, the fear subsided on that stretch of highway. But if I go on the highway at any unfamiliar point, it comes back. I’m not fully over it, but I am getting there.
Just when I thought I was over my fear of driving, I got into an accident totaling my car (thank God I was not seriously hurt). I was terrified of driving again. I asked my husband to drive me to work the next day. He said no and instead made me get back behind the wheel and drive him to work, pick up the kids and then drive back to pick him up. He refused to let me give up, and it worked. Within a few days, I was back to driving with confidence, at least locally.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who have no fear of anything, this is probably not for you. But I know that there are many reading this who have some type of fear. Some are afraid of letting others read their work, or others are too afraid of rejection to submit their writing to an agent or publisher. To you I’ll say, make little baby steps.
So what steps have you made to overcome your fear?