I used to hate driving. If a group of my friends were jumping in the car to go to McDonal- er, I mean, somewhere super cool, I would innocently pretend I didn’t mind driving while inwardly begging someone else would volunteer. On long road trips, my friend or boyfriend at the time would take the wheel while I reclined as the passenger. That way, car rides were carefree and stress free, I didn’t have to worry about anything because all the responsibility was in the hands of someone else.
When I moved to Nashville everything changed. I didn’t know anyone when I first arrived and I found myself having to chauffeur myself around the city, getting lost on streets that changed names abruptly and neighborhoods that all seemed to look the same. It was frustrating and terrifying and I wanted to stay home all the time.
But somewhere along the road (ha), I started to love driving. I loved finding shortcuts and taking people around to my favorite places. I loved rolling the windows down, blaring the radio and driving – just because I can.
Last week, I made the trek down to Atlanta and back, fighting pouring rain and LA-esque traffic the entire way. But the miracle was that in less than 48 hours, I had made the 9-hour round trip drive and survived!
This feat may seem ordinary to most of you fearlessly expert drivers, but the same trip looked a lot differently for me just a few years ago on a very similar trip down to Atlanta. I had convinced my roommate to drive down with me to go shopping and eating. The morning of the trip, I ignored the anxiety I was feeling, pretending the drive wasn’t terrifying me. I played music, I told jokes, I kept my mind distracted as my heart raced past each mile marker. Relief didn’t come even after arriving in to the city because I knew, in a matter of hours, I would have to turn around and drive home.
After getting lost a couple times (me, secretly screaming inside), we finally made it on the highway to head home. But right in the midst of all the sunshine, it started to rain. And that’s when I froze. I was so afraid of what the rain COULD do on this drive, that I became overcome with fear. I was so afraid that I had to pull to the side of the highway and make my roommate drive the rest of the way home.
I felt defeated. Weak. Stupid. I can’t even drive myself through the rain.
I feel like this in life a lot. Something happens, rain starts unexpectedly pouring, and my confidence freezes. I can’t see clearly anymore and I’ve lost all faith in myself. In these moments of rain, I find myself playing out my worse case scenarios all the way up to the car crash. But what if we lived our lives like there were no worse case scenarios?
Bare with me here.
In the past few years, I’ve been trying to live outside my comfort zone – telling a longtime friend that I liked him, meeting strangers and becoming friends with them, moving to a new city, asking out a crush. Like a true planner, I played out the worse case scenarios: I will get rejected…I will feel awkward and stupid and realize that no one likes me…I won’t be able to find a job…No one will want to be my friend…But as I thought more about these “worse case” scenarios, the more I realized how ridiculous it sounded. So instead of letting the fear hold me back, I did it anyway.
I won’t go into details, but I will say living outside your normal comfort zone opens up a lot of opportunities to crash and burn. Like when I told my friend that I liked him, I got shot down and then accidentally texted him (instead of another friend) about how frustrating and embarrassing it was. Whoops.
But the more I put myself out there, the less scary the rest of the world becomes.
Last month I went over to a friend’s house for dinner, but they were running late and wouldn’t be home for another hour. I parked my car and walked a few streets down to a neighborhood restaurant and sat at the bar. By the time my friends came to pick me up, I had made friends with the people around me and the entire wait staff, exchanging numbers and of course, high fives. It was a proud moment for me, driving in the rain like that.
I used to wonder why God reminded us so often not to worry and be afraid. Sometimes I reasoned it was because there were a lot of fraidy-cats in the Bible, but I’m starting to see it’s because we are so innately bred in letting fear cripple and alter who we are. We don’t do things because we’re afraid that the outcome will be something or nothing or everything we could ever imagine in our craziest dreams. But if we live without fear, these seemingly “worse case” scenarios become non-existent.
The topic of “worry” has come up a lot in the last few weeks and it’s becoming apparent that it’s all around. We worry that we won’t find the perfect job or a husband or wife or a good house or a great roommate or a picturesque life. Even in our dreaming modes we already have 50 worse case scenarios picked out in our minds.
But life is too short to be afraid.
We only have the time we’ve got right now to be kind to others, to be generous, to lift up our friends, to love well, to be spontaneous and to be ourselves…so why waste any second of it? Once you start allowing yourself to live fearlessly, you start to see that even the worst things aren’t really that bad.
Like for me, even when my “worse case” scenarios come true…like accidentally text-venting about the boy I like TO the boy I like…I find that I can just as easily brush it off, laugh about it and move on. (And turn it into a great party story in the process).
Cause really, it’s just a little rain.
Photo credit here.