I have found that the older I get, the more my general self-confidence improves. I don’t think I can do anything, but I find myself getting less anxiety about new situations than I used to. I went from thinking, “OH GOD, THERE’S NO WAY I CAN DO THIS EVER” to, “Okay, I may fuck this up, but everything is going to be fine in the end.”
I think I have alluded to my past driving anxiety on here before. It used to be bad. I hated driving at night, would not drive on freeways or highways at night, and would freak out before going to a new place. This really hindered me when I first moved to the city I live in now, and for a long time I didn’t have a great feel for the city. My driving confidence improved as I started driving more and putting myself out of my comfort zone, and now it really isn’t a big deal.
Every once in awhile, I find myself in driving situations that would have freaked me out several years ago. I was returning from a field job today, and our route takes us through Houston. I’ve never driven in Houston; I’ve driven in some of the suburbs, like Katy, but never in Houston proper. Back when driving terrified me, I told myself I would never drive in Dallas or Houston. I’ve already driven in Dallas and it was not a big deal. But driving in Houston just hasn’t happened yet.
My coworker had been planning on having me drive after getting out of Houston, which was fine to me; I didn’t particularly want to drive through it (I don’t think anyone does). But when we were a couple miles east of downtown, she pulled into a gas station and said, “Jen, do you feel okay going through Houston?” “Yeah,” I said, switching seats with her.
I’m not going to lie; I was a little nervous, just because I know how aggressive and notorious Houston drivers are. But I also felt a confidence I would not have felt several years ago. Instead of thinking, “OH GOD NOOOOOOOOOOOOO,” I thought, “Yeah, this is not going to be a big deal.” In fact, I was actually relieved I was going to be able to drive through Houston, just so I can say that I’ve done it.
So I got on I-10. I had a lovely view of downtown:
Don’t worry, I took that picture a couple of years back when I took a charter bus to NASA. I wasn’t snapping photos while driving or anything.
And there was a lovely song playing on Alt Nation while I drove through the city:
And the drive was fine. I will say that switching from 610 to 290 was a bit hairy because no one wants to let you in, and I had to cross like four or five lanes of traffic in thirty seconds, but it wasn’t a big deal.
It’s always nice to have these experiences and think back to when you used to be afraid of moments like these. What had I been so afraid of?