The “L” in Anxiety

Hey, I’m Jenn… I knit...I don’t work at Noble Wellness Studio, I just know Santana and Marla and for some reason they thought it’d be fun if I did a guest blog…. So here I am, trying. It’s so funny, I just recently decided to start a blog of my own for all my knitting and crochet projects. So there I was, attempting to write my first blog, but I was having doubts…. I have those a lot…. so I asked Santana if she thought it was a dumb idea, and she was like NOPE!!! And then proposed the idea of my writing a blog post for Noble Wellness. I have no idea what I’m doing or why in the world I agreed to such a thing! At this point I’m really regretting having agreed to this, but I’m going to trudge along anyway and maybe something magical will happen….

To be honest, I kinda feel like barfing right now….. Do you think I can back out? Or are we past the point of no return? Oh lord this post is going to suck, sorry Santana. Ok, so…. I’m super nervous about this blog because I know lots of people are going to read it. You see, I have anxiety/depression. I think most notably I have social anxiety, more specifically selective mutism. This basically means I actually haven’t got the foggiest idea how to talk or otherwise engage in meaningful conversations with people. To be honest, people terrify me, and so does the thought of trying to have conversations with them. I’ve been aware that I have anxiety/depression since my early twenties, but I’m fairly certain I’ve had it for much longer. Some days are good, some days not so good, as anyone else who has these conditions will understand. But I’m not here to talk about how tiring and hard my life has been, on the contrary, I’m going to talk about my freedom.

About a year ago now, I came across the most wonderful, empowering book I have ever read in my entire life! This book is seriously life-changing. It’s called “I Hope I Screw This Up” by Kyle Cease. I borrowed it from the library, and I read it twice before returning it. A few months ago, his second book came out, and I wanted to read it SOOO badly! But, it wasn’t in the library yet. I had a giftcard for Indigo, so I decided to purchase both his books. I have zero regrets! I don’t want to spend this entire blog re-iterating both books, so I’ll try to sum them up really quickly for you so you can see where I’m coming from.

What if I told you everything you’ve ever known or thought about yourself was a lie…. That idea probably sounds absolutely absurd right now, and possibly a little (or a lot if you’re me) scary, right? Well that’s what Kyle’s books are about, they prove to you just how wrong you are about yourself and how to obtain complete and total freedom from all your thoughts and fears and beliefs. These books are about breaking barriers, following your heart instead of your ego, and listening to the calling of the universe. Different people call it different things, some people call it God, or fate, or divine intervention, or whatever you like. I call it the universe. The books explain how to follow the calling of the universe to find your true self. And yes, the universe gives you signs, you just need to watch for them.

Sooo….. that was all backstory, now this is where the fun begins! I know, for someone who claims not to be able to talk to people, I sure have a LOT to say, I know, I’m sorry. And I’m not even done! Wwwweeeeeeeeeee! Focus Jenny! Ok, so… This is kind of embarrassing, but I don’t have my driver’s license yet. You may be asking yourself 'what 30 year-old doesn’t know how to drive!?!?' But it’s true. I mean, I’ve had my “L” twice before, once like every normal 16 year-old, and then again a few years ago. Not actually getting my full license was fine then, we lived in town, I walked everywhere, my husband drove around on weekends, and we also couldn’t afford a second vehicle. So it was fine. I never had a real, urgent, necessary reason to actually learn how to drive…. Until now. Over the summer, we moved… to the country, but still close enough that we have to walk to school. Which was fine…. Until it snowed and then the road we had to walk along became….. let’s just say I no longer felt comfortable trekking along it with my 4 and 8 year-olds. And then I realized, no matter what my excuses were before, I would need to learn how to drive for next winter.

Oh the excuses I had for not learning how to drive…. the list is SOOO long! It starts with ‘I can’t drive’, justified by ‘I’ll never be a good driver’ and ‘I suck at driving’….. ‘I’m not good enough to drive’, ‘I don’t want to be responsible for causing an accident…. Or worse’, ‘We can’t afford another vehicle’, ‘I don’t need to drive’, ‘I don’t mind not driving’, ‘Walking is good exercise’, ‘I’d be a terrible driver’, ‘I have the WORST reflexes’, ‘I suck at driving’, ‘I can’t drive at night’, ‘I can’t drive in bad weather’, ‘I close my eyes when I sneeze’, ‘I close my eyes when it’s too sunny’, ‘We have a standard and I can’t drive standard, it’s too complicated/hard/etc etc’, ‘I don’t want to wreck the car’, ‘We can’t afford to get it fixed if I burn out the clutch’, ‘I’m not good enough’….. Yeah, the list is LONG.

I managed to push the daunting thought of learning how to drive out of my mind until after the holidays. I had nearly forgotten all about it….. until I remembered and was hit with instant panic. Then the excuses and fear started rolling in again. It was also around this same time that I had started rereading both of Kyle’s books (you know, the ones I mentioned 4 paragraphs ago). And I don’t think this was by accident, I think I was meant to read those books as I embarked on preparing to write for my “L” yet again. So, I finished reading the fun books…. In which I further understood/suspected that the universe was practically yelling to me at this point “FOR PETE’S SAKE GET YOUR DAMN LICENSE JENNY!!!!!!!”. Then I started the dreaded task of reading the ‘Learning how to drive book’ (that’s definitely not it’s real name). My goal was to read a chapter a day, and do the online practice test once a day. Well, the more I read the book, the more I started to panic; the more I didn’t do very well on the practice test, the more I started to panic. So, I woke up every morning, had my coffee, read a chapter, did the run through of the test, then spent the WHOLE rest of the day freaking out…… Crying, thinking I would fail, feeling like I’m not good enough, feeling like I suck at everything….. yeah, it was a really bad two weeks. In hindsight, I maybe should have studied in the evening and that way I didn’t have to spend the entire day, every day stressing. And then something happened….. it may have been on chapter 4, I can’t really remember, but it was definitely when I was about halfway through the book…. I had the epiphany of all epiphanies! This sudden thought just popped into my head ‘What if it’s just a lie? What if I only think I’m a bad driver, but I actually am a good driver!?!’ ‘What if I stop trying to think what ICBC thinks I think they think is the right answer and just pick the answer that I think is the correct answer!?!’ Basically, I just decided to stop trying to pick the right answers and just pick my answers. But, there was also this second opinion on the matter, that thought of ‘But what if I do that and I’m a bad driver, what if I can’t actually drive and all my fears are realized and I’m a horrible person and I never get my license and everything is OVER!!!!!! I'M DDDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEEEDDD!!!!!!’

But still, the sudden epiphany thought remained there. What if….. what if I was actually a good driver!?!? What if! How could I be sure of this though? I needed evidence. Some sort of concrete, I’m on the right track, of course I’m a good driver, I can do this sign….. A sign. So, right then and there, I re-did the practice test, and this time, instead of trying to pick the answer I thought ICBC wanted me to pick, I just concentrated and picked the answer that corresponded with what I would do…

Turns out, I’m a great driver!!! (Well, in theory for now.) Once I actually got out of my own head and started to believe I was a good driver, I started getting 100% on the tests. I must have done the test at least 6 times that day (probably more) and I got 100% on EVERY. SINGLE. ONE! Because guess what, ICBC wants you to do the logical, most safest thing you could possibly do in any given driving situation. I EXCEL in being safe!!! Being safe is my specialty, my superpower! I avoid conflicts AT ALL COSTS! I’m so anti-confrontational, so small and shy and not wanting to offend anyone ever, that this is actually an ASSET when it comes to driving!!! HAHA! Finally my weakness has become a strength!

And I’m back! Sorry about that power-trip, I may have gotten a tad carried away….. just a tad. Despite doing well on the practice tests and having this new-found confidence and belief in myself, there was a part of me that was still PETRIFIED! If you’re familiar with Kyle’s books, then you’ll know that the only part of me that was scared was my limited ego; my old story, the part of me that believed I couldn’t drive and was afraid of change….. because change meant death to the old story. So, I was still hesitant to call and make my appointment, I was still nervous to write my actual test. A part of me still thought I was making a mistake and was afraid what the people at the insurance office would think of a 30 year-old woman coming in to write for her license…. again. Worse yet, what would they think if I failed! I must be the ONLY person on the ENTIRE planet who didn’t get her license when she was 16 like everyone else!

But I called…..( and I HATE calling people, ESPECIALLY to make appointments!) But I did, I called and I made that appointment. On the surface, I felt terrible, I felt like running away and hiding and never leaving my house again! I like my house, my house is fun, it’s in the country, we have 20ish acres, most of it hayfield, but we also have a beautiful treed gully. I like trees, I like hay, I don’t like interacting with people, what if I never have to do that again?! What if I can just stay in my nice house in the country, in my forest forever and pretend people don’t actually exist?? Because Jenny, that’s not freedom, that’s a prison. But in my heart….. In my heart I was following a calling. I didn’t know why or how or what would happen, I just knew this was something I HAD to do, no matter what I was feeling or what I thought other people would think. I HAD to do this!

The days leading up to my test were…. interesting. I felt like I was on this terrifying roller coaster ride where part of the time I’m freaking the fuck out and the other part of the time I’m thinking this is the most freeing thing I’ve ever done! We already explored the freaking out part in the previous paragraph….. let’s not venture there again because at this point I feel like you’re all starting to question my sanity. Let’s focus on the freeing part. Now, I’m not talking about the physically freeing aspect of learning how to drive. I wasn’t standing around fantasizing about all the awesome fun places I could go and things I could do when I got my license (well I was a little bit), but that’s not the kind of freedom I’m talking about here. I’m talking about my…. I’m not really sure how to word it…. mental freedom maybe? I don’t know, but there was this sudden realization that if my thinking I was a bad driver and I would never ever learn how to drive for the past 14 years was a lie, what else had I lied to myself about? How about ‘I’m a bad mom’ or ‘I’m a bad wife’? ‘I’m a failure.’ ‘I’ll never amount to anything.’ ‘I suck.’ ‘I don’t deserve love.’ ‘I don’t deserve happiness.’ ‘I’ll never be good enough.’ ‘I’m not worthy.’ ‘I’m not good enough.’

Suddenly, there was a LOT of pressure riding on this one little license and one little test. I was kind of numb on the day of my test, except for the part where I thought the world would actually spontaneously combust into a great big burning ball of burningness while I waited for my test results. I thought I had failed. I thought the world was over. I thought everything I had been fighting for the last couple weeks was over. I was a failure, I was not worthy, I was not good enough. I was nothing.

It didn’t really register when the very nice lady said I got 96%. (Two questions wrong!) I was kind of numb. I mean I heard a voice in the back of my head say ‘Look! You passed!’, but it didn’t really click. It didn’t click when I signed the million and one forms, or when I got my smile-less picture taken or when I was handed the great big, shiny red L or the ‘Tuning up for Drivers’ book (that’s actually what that book is called). It didn’t click when I texted Santana shortly after….. I still don’t think it’s actually clicked for some reason, I’m not sure why.

I think……… I think a part of me wanted to fail….. because failing would be easy. I could go back to being regular old me. The me who can’t drive, the me who isn’t worthy, the me who’s stuck in my old story and doesn’t need to evolve or change or grow….. what was wrong with the old me? But I didn’t fail, I passed. Though it doesn’t feel like a victory. It feels like hard work lies ahead of me; hard, daunting, laborious, life-changing work. Because I passed, I now must actually learn how to drive; I must actually grow and change. The ego hates growth, the ego hates change. And I am afraid. I am not who I thought I was…… so who am I? I am not my thoughts, I am not the girl who can’t drive, I am not the bad mom, I am not my old story. I am a blank slate….. I feel lost. This open road lies ahead of me, and I am afraid of what is to come. I am afraid of the unknown and who I will turn out to be. Because I passed, I know longer know who I am……

Oh. MY. UNIVERSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok ok ok!!!!!!!!!!!!! You all remember WWWAAAAAAYYYY back at the beginning of this post, when I started explaining Kyle Cease’s most amazing books!? Here’s a recap in case you forgot: What if I told you everything you’ve ever known or thought about yourself was a lie…. That idea probably sounds absolutely absurd right now, and possibly a little (or a lot if you’re me) scary, right?...... THIS!!!!!!!!! This is the point I’m at RIGHT NOW! I told you something magical would happen! And let me tell you, it is scary! A LOT scary, because I’m me! In the previous paragraph, I was just typing what came to me, literally what came to me in that specific moment in time. I was basically just mumbling to myself trying to figure out why I still felt so numb about getting my license, and then BAM!!!!!!! You ever have those moments in your life where you feel like everything that has ever happened in your entire life has led you to this exact, precise moment in time? Like you’re SUPPOSED to be there, and suddenly the whole world makes sense. This is me, right now!

Wow! I had NO idea where this would go when I agreed to write it or when I first sat down and started typing. I thought I was writing about overcoming my anxiety and getting my L and what that meant to me. And here I am, completely and utterly changed by this experience. I have no words. None at all. The universe is CRAZY and works in absolutely the most insane ways!

Today I am free. I am free because I followed a calling, blindly, on faith. I ignored my doubts and fears. I wrote for my L, and I knew Santana, and I wrote a blog for her, and today I am free! Today, I am NOT afraid. Today, I am NOT my story. Today, I KNOW I am worthy! Today, I KNOW I am enough! This is total freedom. This is following your heart. This is listening to the universe. This is magic!

(PS Thank you, Marla and Santana!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!….. This was kind of fun and freaking AMAZING! You were right! MAGIC!!!!!! <3<3<3)

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