Monday, March 10, 2014

On being bold and brave.... and learning to drive a stick shift

I learned to drive our stick shift. 

Guys. You don't know what this means. I am not one to whom driving comes naturally. It has marked a point of fear in my life. 

When I was 16 I was in the US and was put through the usual American teenager rigmarole of taking driver's education, putting in hours of driving practice, and moving towards getting a license. I hated it. I was sunk into myself, insecure in general and avoiding anything that put me out of my comfort zone. Driving was yet another new and scary thing, along with just about everything else I was encountering by moving back to the US. And so, when I resisted doing the last of my practice hours, my mom gave me the option of finishing them up and getting my license, or going back to Indonesia without a license and having to wait until I came back for college. 

Yeah, that one. The one where I don't have to be challenged or do the hard thing. That's the one I want. 

In fact, that's usually the one I want. I had a moment of realization a few weeks back. My Bible study group was going through Stuck by Jennie Allen, and I was feeling disconnected from the chapter on fear. It addressed worry, and I'm generally not a worrier. I don't feel a lot of anxiety about most things. 

But then I thought about the whole driving thing. I avoided getting my license till I was about 20 (college in the big city where everyone takes trains!), and I didn't really drive consistently until I got a car here in Dallas. Note... that was like three years ago. I would say, "I hate driving" but what was really true is that I was afraid, and so I avoided it. New things, intimidating things.... I just avoid them and then I don't have to feel anxiety and worry. I've never in my life taken a dare. My brother and my mom may jump out of an airplane or run a marathon, but me, I stick with the things I know I'm good at. 

My name, Kacie, is adapted from the name Casey, which means "bold or brave".
I've always wondered about that. It seems so ill-fitting. I believe names are meaningful, and can be prophetic. What does it mean that my name means bold when I am so not bold? 

To put it bluntly, I have been a fearful person, managing to not feel the fear (worry and anxiety) by simply avoiding anything that was new, uncomfortable, or scary. I didn't look fearful because I avoided hard things. This is a revelation to me. 

In January I started to learn to drive our stick shift, which I had avoided/refused to do for years. It was what I dreaded. It took me time to pick it up, and we had several times when I was stalled at a light or intersection, trying and trying to get the car going in first, shaking and dying again and again. The people-pleaser in me just dies as the cars line up behind us, some honking, and we went through literally three rounds of lights. TERRIBLE. I murmured, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" over and over again - lol. 

But I knew that if I pushed through, I'd adjust. That's what I've learned over the past few years. Scary things, hard things, they are real, and they really are that bad sometimes. But we have a remarkable capacity to adjust, and if you push through it's not always going to be as bad or as hard as it is at first or for a while.

Another thing happened this Spring. I'm a Yelp Elite member, and have been for years. It just sort of happened, and didn't mean anything except that I reviewed places I visited. Eventually I discovered there was a whole social networking component of Yelp, and that there were events and parties for Elite members. I was intrigued and .... totally avoided it. I went to one Elite event. There were tons of people there. I people watched and then left. I was new in Dallas and (looking back I realize) deeply insecure about who I was within this culture. I avoided most interactions where I couldn't be a wallflower. I said I didn't get the culture and that I was an introvert, but I think much more than that, I was just insecure. Afraid. 

This Spring I have been looking for ways that I can slip out for some social connection away from the kiddos occasionally and I wanted to intentionally avoid just doing one more church activity. I really believe in living amidst my community. And beyond that, something is different in me. I am not afraid anymore. I think motherhood and a spiritual journey did this to me. Yelp was a natural fit, and I started going to a few get-togethers, making friends, and chatting with people. 

Ya'll. It's just fun. I am having a blast. These are people from all different backgrounds, strangers, gathered around food and restaurants and exploring this city. That is SO me. And it's easy. From the first moment I could recognize that this was a socially awkward type of situation (strangers gathering and making small talk) and yet I feel so ... normal. So able to just chat, laugh, get to know people. I don't think it would be notable at all except that it is in such contrast to who I was in my first years here in Dallas. 

So you know? I think... I grew up. 
I'm able to reach out. I'm able to see beyond my fear. 
I'm able to just live.... and drive a stick shift... and grab lunch with new friends. 

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