“This life isn’t fair. Its gonna get dark. Its gonna get cold. You gotta get tough, but that ain’t enough. Its all about soul!”Billy Joel – All About Soul, off the album River Of Dreams
Let’s take a break from the stories and imagery for a bit, and talk about a very uneasy topic for a lot of us – self confidence.
Whether you have 20/20 vision, have had some sort of surgery to correct you vision, are legally blind, or have some type of albinism, you’ve had to grapple with confidence issues. Regardless of the source, you’ve had to push yourself through situations, even though you don’t feel like your efforts are enough to foot the bill. This could be for a variety of different reasons, and can hold you up from making some decisions that you’d otherwise have some sort of conviction in.
While you’re behind the wheel, you are going to be making many decisions in the course of your drive. Those decisions have to be made with conviction, and you have to be ready to execute. Indecisiveness, especially on the road, can cause some real problems for you, and could lead to an accident.
Let’s Be Honest
No matter how many times you’re told about your accomplishments so far along this journey, your anxiety and fear of not being good enough will always be louder. You’ll have gotten your permit, passed the road test, and have gotten your license, all in one shot. Chances are, you’ll still doubt yourself. You might even think that the fix was in, and that you might not even deserve getting your driver’s license from the state, even after all of the hard work, grit, and emotion you put in. This is referred to as the imposter syndrome.
Danielle Moulds, one of my closest friends, and 9TF’s editor, wrote a very interesting piece on Imposter Syndrome and Blindness. Read about how she copes with imposter syndrome as a college graduate [here]
I remember how elated I felt when I had finally passed my road test. I had finally realized that one big dream I’ve had since age 16. I remember hearing the words “no restrictions” when it came to my driving privileges. I remember my eyes welling up with tears as I stood in the middle of Whitestone, New York with my newly printed temporary license. I then felt the crushing weight of responsibility, and the more-than-palpable pressure that became par for the course for a licensed driver who just happened to be legally blind.
One of the other things that I began to notice, especially with my friends in the albinism, VI, and blind communities, is how the dynamics of certain relationships changed. Most of them for the better, while some of those bonds strained by the new weight of trepidation and anxiety. I try not to take this personally, but I am only human. To say that it doesn’t bother me would be a blatant lie. Alas, I’m not here to make everyone happy.
A part of having that confidence m and maintaining it is reinforcement. That means going out, whenever you could, and taking yourself for a drive. Do it with a person or people you trust. Do it alone. Do it on surface streets or the highway. Just do it. Familiarize yourself with your neighborhood, and how the streets are configured. Familiarize yourself with common bottlenecks, and how to get around them. As you’re doing these things – and I am going to say this loud so that people in the back can hear this – KEEP YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM CLOSE.
The one who helps you find and acquire that new car, the few taking time out of their day to drive around Brooklyn and Queens so that you could get your feet wet, the one volunteering to sit shotgun, the one telling you stories of them learning to drive on the west coast, then again when they moved to Georgia to live a new life, the one or two that will go with you anywhere, the one who you have to remind to put their seat belt on before every single trip, but will jump in with you because they crave adventure, even the one who supports your crazy idea of turning this into a blog, those are going to be the people who will remind you of how far you’ve come, and their trust will be in you. I have people just like that, and they know very well who they are. I hope that as they read this, they now know that I am forever indebted to them for their dedication and support, and love them dearly. To the ones that come to me about their questions, and trust me enough with their concerns, I hope this helps you. I sincerely want you to succeed.
I couldn’t have built my confidence on my own, but I do know this:
- You’ll be able to drive by yourself without death gripping the wheel.
- You’ll be able to merge onto the freeway without panicking
- You’ll be able to maintain your lane without fear of weaving.
- You’ll be able to drive without the fear of hurting other people in your car, or around you.
We’ll have more “talks” as this series goes on, but only when I feel things have gotten heavy.
Until then, stay tuned and follow from a safe distance. It’ll be worth the trip.