About a month ago I hit a majorly delayed adult milestone that I (only half jokingly) always swore I would never hit: I finally got my driver license. I learned to drive at the typical age and would occasionally renew my permit to contribute to road trip driving but never followed through and got the license. My quip for years was, "I don't drive, honey, I'm driven," and that was cute until it suddenly wasn't anymore. Suddenly I woke up and realized that I was reaching into the end of my 20's and really needed to get my shit together. I mean, come on! Besides native New Yorkers, who gets to be my age and doesn't have their license?
Not being licensed was a clever way to limit my options and the size of my life for a long time. It disqualified me from taking good, challenging jobs, traveling to exciting places outside the reach of public transit and otherwise participating in typical adult life. I used to have a reoccurring anxiety dream that I would need to be able to drive in some emergency situation and couldn't. For a long time I leaned on the excuse of trauma from a car accident when I was young to justify my refusal to do it, allowing this fear to grip me and shrinking sedately into the passenger seat.
The first time I drove in the car by myself, I got the hugest exhilarating rush and couldn't help but laugh at myself and ask the important question:
What have I been so afraid of?
Sure, driving can be scary. People do some supremely stupid shit in/with their cars. But by and large it's really rad. I can't get the kind of reading and writing done while I'm driving that I do on public transit, but driving beats the shit out of standing at a cold, dark bus stop...and I've done a lot of that, I would know. It was a really valuable step to take outside of what was comfortable, working my edges and growing me.
Because when you remove an obstacle that's been so limiting for so long, the subsequent release is never just about the obstacle. Not being able to drive meant so much more than not being able to drive. Opening up that one avenue of possibility opened up the whole world and has affected the way I live my life and how I feel about myself in profound ways that I never would've anticipated. Had I known how good this would feel I would've done it years ago!
To me, New Years Resolutions lack power and potency because by and large people choose things that they would and/or should be doing anyway. If you want to run a marathon this year, don't resolve to do it, just do it. The real, big challenge is fearlessly removing the obstacles we keep cemented in place out of fear, guilt, hurt, anger, etc. If you want to change your life, start by examining all the ways in which you are allowing it to be limited, all the ways in which you are playing small, avoiding feeling or vulnerability, missing opportunities. This, of course, requires great courage. But as Betty Bender suggested, and I've experienced, “Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile...initially scared me to death.”
Instead of resolving to achieve anything this year, I intend to do the things that scare me, to work my edges and remove the obstacles to my own happiness and success. I intend to do the work that I don't want to do, because that's probably what really needs to be done. Whether it be falling in love again, going back to school, letting go or learning to drive, I offer you my sincerest blessings for a successful year of doing what is hard in order to become bigger and brighter than you could've imagined. Happy New Year!