This I Believe

Gloria - Mount Kisco, New York
Entered on June 14, 2007
Age Group: 65+
Themes: change, courage
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Advice dispensed when I returned to teaching after being an at- home mom. I was scared and doubted my abilities. Veteran teachers in my school with more confidence in me than I had, suggested this mantra. They were wise. In a short time I noticed I didn’t have to fake it anymore.

Recently we moved to a new house, sixty miles from the home we lived in for forty years. Again, anxiety moved in with me. This time I was fearful of new unfamiliar, windy and narrow roads. This fear controlled my explorations. I never hesitated to drive before, why now?

A month after moving, I enrolled in a writing class. I confidently registered for the course, given from 7pm – 9pm. I practiced with my husband before class. In addition, my children bought me a portable navigational device. The class began when it was light outside, but ended in the darkness. My heart started racing, my palms were sweaty as I saw the sky change colors. It all looked so easy in the light, now it was different. Eventually I found my way home, but not without moments of panic

That night was a huge setback. My husband drove me to the remaining classes. I was embarrassed at my public lack of courage. I realized my new home was in the country, with few stores nearby. Actually, there were familiar stores, but they were often twenty minutes to a half hour drive. I digested this news, and stayed close to home, feathering our nest, unpacking boxes, and organizing our belongings. I drove only during the day. The few times I tried to drive further, to a store in which I wanted to shop, I turned around when I felt nervous, and quickly drove home. This happened often, and while I joked about it and said I was saving my husband lots of money, inwardly, I felt ashamed.

I was angry at myself for being fearful, but I was also bored with staying home. One desperate day, I went to my car dealership to change my oil. I had hit a new low. I knew I was in trouble. My new home felt like a prison. Break out time was near.

Summoning up my courage, I announced that I was going to drive, alone, to a local bedding store, and I was doing it tomorrow, before I changed my mind. There were items I needed, and I did not need anyone grumbling about shopping, looking at his watch, and questioning choices. No, it was emancipation time, and I was going to make it.

Fortified with my GPS, internet and store directions, as well as trusty maps, I drove on unfamiliar parkways, and arrived at the store. I gave a resounding “Yes” to the sky after I parked, walked into the store, on slightly shaky legs, and announced my triumph to a disinterested salesperson. I knew I didn’t have to fake it anymore.