Fear and the Art of Motorcycle Riding

Posted by on Jul 17, 2014 in General Insanity | 0 comments

I’m afraid of lots of things—spiders, germs, and that you’ll think I’m a moron, just to start. I’ve been thinking about the nature of fear a lot recently, and I’ve come to the conclusion that self-confidence and fear are in direct opposition to each other. This may not be ground-breaking news for anyone else, but for me it’s come as quite a surprise.

A few months ago my husband suggested that we get motorcycles. Frankly, I thought he was kidding because, let’s face it, I’m way too neurotic for that shit. Some days I can barely manage to leave the house because some random thing might kill me. This was a terrible idea—maybe the worst idea in the history of ever. People DIE on motorcycles.

At the time, I think I probably laughed and said sure. I think I imagined that the whole idea was a flight of fancy that he’d forget about given time. Well, he didn’t. He started to research how one goes about getting a motorcycle endorsement in this state, which involves a riding class. I figured a class couldn’t hurt, right? We’ll go, see how terrible I am at it, and then we’ll have a bit of a laugh and forget about the whole awful idea.

The first day of class came around, and that was when fear and I became reacquainted. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the first time I sat on a motorcycle I almost dropped it because my hands were shaking. Somehow, I managed to move the thing. I still had my feet on the ground, though, and I was pretty sure I was never going to be able to pick them up.

I cannot properly express the heart-pounding terror of picking my feet up that first time. I was sure, no, I was CERTAIN, that was going to fall over, both injuring and embarrassing myself in the process. I didn’t. I actually managed not to fall the entire day. In no version of that day that I had worried about for weeks in advance had that happened.

In the end, I passed the class and didn’t drop the bike once. Holy shit! Now what had I done? I had a piece of paper saying I could get my motorcycle endorsement. I kind of had to follow through, right? I mean, I’d alreadyBrouaEPIYAEjsCG done the hard part. This isn’t really the story of how I ended up with a motorcycle through what felt like no fault of my own, but I think it’s relevant to mention that at no time in the process until the very end, when the nice gentleman dropped off my gorgeous Yamaha Bolt, did I ever imagine myself the owner and rider of a motorcycle.

Here’s what I really want to talk about: how fear is a manifestation of lacking self-confidence. Throughout this motorcycle saga, I’ve encountered and conquered a lot of fear. I piled minor victories on top of each other until I surpassed what I had imagined I could do by so much I could barely see the starting point. Each time I managed to do something, I also learned an important lesson: when I knew I could manage a situation, I wasn’t as scared of it anymore. The simple act of knowing I could do it lessened the fear the next time the situation came around.

The point of this rather rambling post, dear reader, is that the lesson the motorcycle has taught me can be applied to everything from submitting stories to saying hello to someone I admire. Facing and overcoming something I am afraid of can only make the fear less menacing and give me the confidence to do it again. What’s the worst that can happen if I submit a story and it’s rejected? They say no. That’s it. The world isn’t going to end. The editor isn’t going to think I’m a moron. (Honestly, if they think anything at all about me I’m pretty much winning!) The story isn’t going to self-destruct.

Frank Herbert was right, I think: Fear is the mind-killer. So do something that scares you (safely!), and learn from it. Tonight I’m going to get on a highway for the first time on my motorcycle. I’m terrified, but I’m not going to let that stop me. Tomorrow I’m going to apply for a job I really want, but don’t think I deserve. I’m terrified of that, too. I’ll survive both experiences, I’ll gain confidence from them, and I’ll go on to do bigger and better things. Because this is my story, damn it, and I’m not going to be too afraid to live it.

Hearts and puppies,


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