Thursday, October 27, 2016

Behind the curve

Has anyone felt like they were behind the learning curve as an adult? It's easy to justify these things when you're a child. I can remember playing wall ball when I was in middle school. Or more accurately, watching wall ball from across the pavement. For those of you who don't know what wall ball is, someone throws a ball at the wall and everyone runs to to the wall and tries to touch it before the ball hits. If you don't make it, you're out.

So why was I watching from the sidelines? Let's just say I preferred reading to running as a kid. So I'd pretty much be out after the very first throw. While this isn't academically behind the curve, I clearly remember thinking that there was something wrong with me. No one else was out after the first throw after all. So, I practiced. I started running up and down my street. I never did get good at sprinting though. Instead, in high school, I started running cross country. And boy did I love it!

Sometimes, I think you're meant to be behind the curve. There's a reason you can't solve equations as quickly as your classmates or run as quickly as them. But sometimes the reason you're behind is on you.

I'm 24 years old, and I have to say that (yet again) I'm behind the learning curve. Why's this? Because at 24 I'm learning how to drive.

I actually starting learning how to drive right before I turned 18. For Christmas that year, my parents bought me and my sister driving classes. We attend class for 8 hours and need to complete driving and observation hours to pass. Most of the kids in the class have already been driving with their parents, but our parents hadn't taken us yet. So when I got in the car with the instructor and other student, I made sure to mention my lack of experience. Boy, should I not have done that!

I spent my hour of driving fumbling through things while listening to the kid in the back seat and my instructor making fun of me. It was stressful and I didn't do so well. I didn't run into the curb or anything but my turns were jerky and I drove in the middle of the road instead of in my lane. When it was the other kids turn, he was pretty perfect at it. It was a little infuriating. Even though I didn't do well, I was excited to give it another go. I called the driving school a few days later to schedule my next lesson. The lady put me on hold for a few minutes and when she came back, she said that she was looking for a new instructor for me. Apparently, I had driven so badly that the instructor requested I be scheduled with someone else. She asked me to call back in a few days. I was so discouraged that I just didn't.

I almost wish that I could say that was the end of the story, but unfortunately it's not. I went off to college and met a friend that was shocked  that I didn't know how to drive.  He offered to teach me himself. And I gotta say, he did a good job. We drove in neighborhoods during the day, practiced parking, and at night I'd drive on the freeway. I remember hitting 100 mph on the freeway when there were no other cars on the road.  It was exhilarating.

One day, we were driving down a road and we were about 300 feet from a stop. My friend said "Wow, I just want you to know that there's no one else I would trust driving my car."  And then,  I hit the back of the car in front of me. I had underestimated how much to slow down for the upcoming red light. By the time I stopped, it was too late. I got out of the car to assess the damage. I can clearly remember how in shock I was. The front of his car didn't look good, but the back of the other car had no visual damage. But that didn't stop the other driver from going crazy. You see, they had just repainted their car in anticipation for an upcoming vacation. I guess the tiny little scratch on the back of their car was going to make their friends judge them or something. So this hysterical lady is yelling at me and I start crying. The cop makes a show of giving me a ticket and they tow my friend's car. We find out later that his transmission is damaged so much that the car is totaled. It was rough. The only good thing to come of this is when the cop drives us in to work. He must have taken pity on me, because he rips up my ticket and tells me he is letting me off with a warning. But this is enough for me to not want to get behind the wheel again. And so I dont. For years.

There's been one time my dad took me (at 23) and my 16 year old sister to go practice driving. I had a panic attack in the car. I felt like the world was caving in and that I was going to crash the car. He told me to knock it off, but I don't think he understood where I was coming from. No one does. I know it was a fender bender, but I have nightmares of this accident often and am terrified of it happening again.

But now, I've decided I'm trying again. My husband is a very patient man as I drive us down the road to the convenience store each morning. It's about a 5-10 minute drive at 35 miles an hour and I'm scared, but I'm trying to push through it. My parking job is fantastic, but I'm working on not riding the curb on the other side of the car. He also said that it seems like sometimes my driving is jerky. I had to explain that it's only because I'm having a mini panic attack each time I get behind the wheel. But I'm trying. And I'll get there. It just might take time.

Have you ever felt behind the curve? Let me know. Tell me I'm not alone.