Fear Is Just a State of Mind

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Truer words have never been spoken.

Fear stands in the way of so many things for so many people, and it has stood in the way for me many, many times. You can let it overcome YOU and never achieve the things you want in life, or YOU can overcome it and have the freedom to do the things you want to do, the freedom to be the person you want to be. It’s your choice.

For many, many years, I let fear overcome me. On so many levels. The main one, the one that held me back the most, was driving. I was scared to death to drive. Now, this makes me a little embarrassed to say, but I’m 35 years old, and I JUST got my driver’s license. For the first time. Ever.

I’d had my learner’s permit before. Got my first one when I was 17, drove a little bit, but not enough to take my driver’s test, let the permit expire. Got another learner’s permit a few years later. Again, drove a bit, thought I can’t do this, and I let the permit expire again. Rinse and repeat several times over the next decade.

The reason why I was scared to drive stemmed from a combination of recurring nightmares I had as a child and car accidents I had been in over the years. The combination of those made me deathly afraid to get behind the wheel of a car. I was even scared to ride as a passenger, but not as scared as I was to drive. I started having nightmares about car accidents when I was pretty young. I don’t remember how old I was, but elementary school age for sure. I have no idea why I started having nightmares about car accidents as up until my late teenage years I’d never even been in a car accident. The nightmares were very vivid and detailed, though. I would hear the screech of tires, the crunch of metal, the sound of glass shattering. I would see the drivers and passengers being pulled from cars, their bodies lifeless. I would see the blood and hear the sirens from the rescue vehicles. I heard the screams.

Again, I have no idea why I started having these nightmares, and when I told my parents about them, they chalked it up to my having an overactive imagination and never did anything about it. While the dreams eventually stopped, I was traumatized and had no desire to get my driver’s license when I turned 16. No. That desire didn’t show up until just a few months ago — almost 20 years later.

As for the car accidents I was in, all but one of them were minor accidents, no injuries, next to no damage to the vehicles involved. The one bad accident I was in was when I was 18. I was just a few weeks pregnant with my oldest daughter. I was sitting in the front passenger seat and wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. My husband was driving, and two of our friends sat in the back seat. Another car ran a stop sign and sideswiped us. I flew forward and smashed the side of my face, mostly my jaw, on the part of the dashboard that jutted out a bit where the radio was installed. My husband’s ankle, which he had injured a few years prior, was re-injured in the accident. The male friend of ours in the back seat had a minor head injury, and I don’t think the female friend of ours in the back seat was injured at all.

Luckily, I didn’t break any bones on my face, though my face was severely swollen and bruised for awhile after that and I have had issues with my jaw from time to time. And while I’m sort of thankful I hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt in that accident because I may have miscarried my daughter, I have never ridden in a car since that day without a seatbelt. Lesson was learned.

Anyway, I’ve gone through my entire adult life being dependent on my husband or others to drive me where I needed to go. Rarely have we lived in an area where it was feasible to walk places, though we do now. I’ve gone through my entire adult life being mocked for not having my license, for being afraid to drive, for letting FEAR stop me from doing something that was so normal. It sucked. I have to say. It. Sucked. Eggs. I had no independence. If I wanted to go somewhere or needed to go somewhere, I had to wait until it was convenient for someone else to take me. If my kids needed to go to the doctor, I had to have someone else take them. My not being able to drive caused a LOT of inconveniences in our lives.

After reading all of this so far, you may be wondering what FINALLY made me suck it up and get my license at 35 years old? Well, the answer is simply: I wanted my life to change. I was tired of putting my life on hold. I was tired of sacrificing the things I wanted because of FEAR. I decided I wanted to finally go to cosmetology school, which is something I’ve wanted to do for years but never did because of my inability to drive and a few other factors too. The closest cosmetology school is about a 30-minute drive from my house, so having someone else drive me to and from every single day was not going to work. If I wanted to go to cosmetology school, I was going to have to drive myself.

I wanted this so badly. I wanted my life to change so badly that I decided I wasn’t going to let the fear stop me yet again. So, I got my license. Was I scared as hell to start driving? Abso-freaking-lutely! I held that steering wheel so tight my knuckles turned white and my hands started cramping. I had to breathe very deep, slow breaths to keep my anxiety at bay as much as possible while I drove for the first few weeks. But the more I drove, the easier it started to get. Now, just a few months after I decided to get my license, I’m driving all over the place. Are there still times I’m scared? Of course, but I’m not letting the fear get to me. I’m not letting it slip inside my head again. Ever.

Now I’m driving my kids where they need to go. I’m driving to cosmetology school. If I want to go somewhere, even to the gas station to grab something to drink, I can get in my car and drive myself there, and that is the best, most freeing feeling in the world.

There is one thing about it that sucks, though, and that is: I wish I hadn’t waited so long. I really do wish I hadn’t let the fear stop me for so long. I almost feel like I wasted a lot of years, a lot of time, and there’s so much I could have done, so many goals I could have accomplished much sooner if only I hadn’t let FEAR rule my life.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, a situation where you’re letting FEAR hold you back, tell it to shut the heck up and do whatever it is it’s keeping you from doing. You CAN do it! You can make your life whatever you want it to be if you don’t let FEAR stand in your way. As the quote says, life becomes LIMITLESS when you choose not to let FEAR rule your life anymore! You can accomplish all the things you’ve always wanted to do. You CAN! But YOU have to make the decision. YOU have to decide that enough’s enough. YOU have to jump that fence that you’ve been struggling to climb for so long. Trust me, you’ll be amazed at how much your life will change just from making that one decision. Take it from someone who knows first-hand. 🙂

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