Yep. I have them. I had even more. Coupled with anxieties.
I have had a number of people say, “You are so courageous!” I deny it. I am a scaredy cat in the scheme of things. Fear had been my Go- To default emotion in fact.
I had to face a lot of my fears in these past two years. Some were subconscious; some more obvious. Some were understandable; others totally irrational.
In order to go to school in MN, I needed to drive from CT to MN, a total of 1,330 miles or so. Map quest said it was a 20+ hour proposition.
It felt like I needed to walk around the world. It seemed so far. And all unfamiliar.
Plus, my financial situation made me resistant to staying in a hotel or two, despite the fact that I knew I could not make that drive in a day.
You can sleep in the parking lots of Wal-mart, so that was my plan. One of my friends was hell-bent and determined to find someone to go with me. A few openly disapproved.
I printed the directions and broke it into three segments. The first night I would stay with a beloved elderly aunt in western PA. That leg of the journey felt familiar and the destination homey.
The rest of the journey felt scary. Where would I stop? I was a single woman traveling alone. I felt vulnerable.
I was afraid to make that drive. I’ll be honest, that is when I realized we live in a rape culture. As a woman, that is what I feared. It is a reality, a reality we are all aware of, especially as women.
All of my worldly goods were loaded in my faithful Subaru, plus a cooler with enough food for the trip. (Did I think there was no food beyond Pittsburgh? or restaurants? I don’t know. I do know that fear is not rational, and preparation helped me put that fear at bay.)
Before I left, a neighbor stopped by with a card. Tucked inside was a gift card for Starbucks. I laughed. It was not a place I frequented, but it was so kind of him.
Who knew what lay ahead?
I got a call from a long-time friend, Mary. She knew my situation and had been supportive throughout my changes. She also knew my plan for the Wal-mart parking lots and never said she disapproved, but she did say, “Hey my husband travels quite a lot and we have a ton of points. I’d really like to give you a night in a hotel, if that works for you. It’s not a big deal at all.”
“Are you sure?” I didn’t want to take it, but I realized that with my car packed, I could not even recline a seat. It would make the trip much more enjoyable. I accepted it.
My destination was not a moving target. I just had to forge ahead.
I had a million fears. What if my car was broken into? What if I got lost? Where was I planning to stop to re-fuel, use the bathroom?
At some point, I had to dive in. Just go. Say good-bye and make the trek. I called a friend or two to alert them to my whereabouts. I made it to my aunt’s. I stopped when I felt like it. I played good music.
The second day I stopped at a state park and went for a 3-mile run.
Somewhere out in the Midwest I realized most of the rest stops had Starbucks inside of them. That gift card? I used it like the manna it was and when I reached MN on the third day, I still had $28 left on it.
When I look back, I realize how silly that fear was and how there is only one way to overcome a fear – face it. By facing it, it becomes realistic in size and scope. It was a drive across a few states, an opportunity to see some of the country and a really pleasant time to spend alone.