This summer, I was able to practice driving a lot more. I've had my license for over a year but there was one thing I had yet to conquer: the freeway. I had only been on it about three times in total since I initially got my permit. (I put off learning how to drive and let my permit expire the first time around.)
The car I drive is a janky '96 Toyota Corolla Wagon, and she's got her issues. One of the windows will not roll down at all; the radio broke so it was removed…classy, right; she likes to stall on you sometimes when you're stopped at a light; and the car is just old so it doesn't exactly make me feel safe while driving.
My mom kept pestering me to learn how to drive on the freeway and I kept saying no, no, no. I felt sick to my stomach every time I knew I had to drive, though, because I felt guilty for purposely avoiding the freeway. I was only prolonging the issue at hand and hindering myself by limiting my freedom.
Why was I so scared in the first place? I felt like I could not do something like driving on the freeway because it was scary and my mind obsessively dissected the "what ifs." Thus, I adapted the mentality that I, in fact, could not drive on the freeway.
On a seemingly random day, it occurred me that, actually, I was capable of doing this one thing and I just had to summon the courage from within.
The next time I did errands, – by myself, I might add – I gave myself a pep talk in the car and took the route down to the freeway. Just like that. And as simple as getting onto the freeway and (mediocrely) merging into the first lane was, I felt very liberated.
I thought, I'm capable. I'm capable of doing things that scare the hell out of me and driving on the freeway is just the beginning.
I decided I wanted to almost always choose the option that scared me over the usual of staying in my comfort zone. Since then, I try and do something every day that sparks a little fear in my heart, as small as talking in class to something much bigger like running for president of my apartment complex.
I am both timid and cautious by nature, so venturing into the unknown is terrifying. But I know that I can do it and exploring my limits, which might not even exist, helps me grow as a person and furthers my character. Also, the adrenaline rush I get from attempting the menacing is a reward in itself.
Once you decide that you, too, want to try and do something foreign to you, you will see a difference in your self-confidence. You will know how capable you are of accomplishing what you put your mind to. On a side note, I understand how incredibly cheesy and cliche a lot of this sounds but, per usual, it comes from the heart.
It is important to understand that what you do is not the most significant factor; driving on the freeway is not impressive, let's be honest. This whole process of confronting your fears is about teaching your mind to act more spontaneously so that you can become more unapologetically you. Doing things that scare you is about building yourself and opening yourself up to the world around you.
At the end of every day, ask yourself, "What did I do today that scares me?" If you can answer, be proud of yourself and do something brand new tomorrow (or do the same thing, depending on your level of fear). If you can't answer, do your best to try something tomorrow that you can be proud of. Start small and remember to celebrate your progress just as much as you embrace your failures.