I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like to share too much of my personal life online, but I feel the need to confess something that I haven’t even shared with some of my friends and family: I’m afraid to drive. Let me start off by saying that I’m not completely afraid to drive, because I do have to from time to time. And I have to say that I have always been afraid to drive. I got my driver’s license after I was an adult and a wife and mom, so I feel behind my peers. Most of the people I know started driving in high school.
I didn’t grow up with parents who drove, so it was never a necessity to me. I lived in Chicago and took public transportation everywhere I needed to go. On top of that, my mother always talked about why she never got her license, stating that she was too nervous to ever do so. After I got married and had a baby, my husband drove everywhere. He got a pretty good job where he got a vehicle for work, leaving our brand new car in the parking lot of our apartment building every day, which is what prompted me to want to drive in the first place. Being in the house with a small baby every day, looking out the window at our mostly unused car made no sense to me, so I decided to finally get my license.
Now let me share another bit of information I never told anyone: I barely passed the driver’s test! I may have messed up a few times, and parallel parking was not something I was good at… at all. After I got my license, I drove very small distances. I lived in the small Chicago suburb of Chicago Ridge, and I would only drive back and forth to the kids’ daycare, school and the grocery store. Once we moved to Los Angeles, I knew I would have to drive. Everyone drives in Los Angeles! You sort of have to to get around. When I lived in Chicago, there were times I drove long distances, but I was extremely nervous about it. I once got lost driving back from my agent’s office on the north side. I somehow ended up on the west side! Another time I got lost is when I was coming back from Second City in the Old Town area. My GPS kept re-routing me and I couldn’t find my way back to the Stevenson expressway! (If you’re from Chicago, you know how ridiculous this sounds.)
Not everyone has to drive, but I need to! I have three kids and I have to get my daughter to school. There’s a big, overwhelming fear of driving and ending up in an accident with my daughters in the car. I hadn’t been driving as much lately because my husband has been taking the car to work since he started a new job. He drops my oldest daughter off at school before work in the mornings, then I take the twins in a Lyft to go get her in the afternoons. I don’t even go out by myself after my husband gets home, though I should. And with being a stand-up comedian, I would be doing way more stand-up if I could drive myself to shows and open mics! I’m thankful to have a best friend who is also a stand-up comedian and doesn’t live too far away who picks me up and we go together, but I need to be able to drive us sometimes.
Making matters worse, a good friend of mine was almost killed in a car accident just two weeks ago after we hung out together. That made me even more afraid of driving, especially on the freeways! I’m so thankful he’s okay, but his car was completely totaled.
I’ve been afraid to own up to my fear. I’m 33 and afraid to drive, and to some, that probably sounds silly. When friends invite me to places, a lot of the time I turn them down if the drive is too far. I never tell people it’s because I’m scared. If a friend needs a ride somewhere, I don’t automatically tell them “I can’t, I’m really scared to drive on the 405″.
I believe my fear, here in LA, is mostly based on things I’ve seen on the news. I constantly see police chases, car crashes, drunk drivers, and people driving off of cliffs accidentally. Some would say “don’t watch the damn news so much!”. Yes, I probably shouldn’t. But in the meantime, I know there’s only one way to overcome this: drive more! I teach my daughters that fear is okay, it’s alright to be afraid of things, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you need to do. I’m afraid when my husband drives with us up on Mulholland Drive, which most people know is this winding-around-a-mountain road through the hills in L.A. and is scary as crap! It makes me nervous, but the views are unbelievable! I’ll go up there and just deal with the fear, but it’s worth it. Learning how to overcome my fears is important, as I’m a role model to three young girls. I never want them to be too afraid to drive around this beautiful city.
Have you ever had to overcome a fear that was hindering your life?
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