I struggle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (anxiousness with no readily identifiable cause), mild Social Anxiety Disorder, and Intrusive Thoughts. Luckily, I have a fantastic support system of people who either understand or simply accept that I get overwhelmed, anxious and upset sometimes.
Jay and I recently became a “one-car family” when I sold my Honda Fit to my sister, who needed a reliable car. We both work from home, so having one car has worked well most of the time. However, we still have days where we’ve both needed to be in separate places at the same time and it’s been inconvenient.
Since a lot of our errands are close to home, we don’t necessarily need a second car. Plus, I just got the garage cleaned out and actually have space to work on art in there! I’m not quite willing to give it up just yet. Our solution was to buy a scooter.
I did some research and finally went to talk to the people at Solano Cycles in Orange Park. They are fantastic. There aren’t any pushy salespeople working on commission (which I hate dealing with) and Martin answered every question I had, including some I hadn’t thought of. I wanted to be able to travel on 45-65mph roads without being afraid of traffic, but didn’t want anything huge and heavy. We ended up getting a brand-new 2013 Kymco Movie 150.
When Martin showed up to deliver our new scooter, he went over the entire bike again with me, showing me where everything is. He had me start it up, lock it, etc. Then he said “Do you want me to show you how to ride it now?”
We had a little bit of daylight left, so I said “Yes, please!”
“Do you have a helmet?” he asked.
“Yes! Let me go get it!”
As I walked to the car to get my new helmet, I felt a bit of anxiety start to build up and I squashed it back down without thinking too hard about it.
Martin started up the “bike” and rode it down the street and back to get it warmed up a bit. Then he asked me to sit on it while he held the handlebars steady at the front and had me turn the throttle to get a feel for it.
Finally, he said “Okay, I want you to turn the throttle just enough to move forward a few feet, then brake. Do it a few times to get used to starting and stopping smoothly.”
He stepped away and suddenly I saw that we had drawn a small crowd down the street who were watching this little spectacle with interest.
I have a very distinct memory from my early twenties of wanting to learn to surf. My boyfriend at the time had a surfboard and was totally willing to teach me. We went down to the beach, he laid the surfboard on the sand, out of reach of the water, and tried to teach me to lay on the board and bounce up onto my feet before actually taking it into the water. I remember being mortified and embarrassed to have to be clumsy and awkward in front of tons of people on the beach, so much so that I panicked and refused to do it at all. The lesson ended and I didn’t try again until I turned 30.
Sitting on my brand new scooter, on my street, with my neighbors and their kids watching, I was suddenly seized by the same mortification and embarrassment. Not because I’d done anything embarrassing, but because I was about to try doing something I WASN’T GOOD AT IT in front of a crowd. It was a deep fear of being seen to be incompetent. Of everyone recognizing that I didn’t know what I was doing and silently judging and laughing at me. It gripped me so hard that I froze for just a second, terrified. I thought about the surfboard on the beach, about how I’d just flat-out refused to do it, and how much I’d regretted it afterward.
And then I decided I wasn’t going to let it conquer me and keep me from learning.
I pushed through it.
I wasn’t graceful. Not nearly so at first. But I kept starting and stopping, bit by bit down the street, toward my little crowd of spectators, Martin walking with me and offering encouragement and advice. A couple was walking toward me on the sidewalk as I moved haltingly down the street, casually watching me. When they got within earshot, I managed to turn to them, grinned and said “Hey, I gotta learn sometime, right?”
The woman grinned back, laughed and said “That’s right! You gotta start somewhere! You’ll get it!” They both smiled at me and walked on.
That quick exchange did more for my confidence than anything else had. I had forced myself to reach out, to lay bare my insecurity to a perfect stranger, and had received positivity in return instead of the judgement and ridicule I had been afraid of.
I’m pleased to say I ended up “putting” around the neighborhood at a steady 15 mph and can now start and stop fairly smoothly. It’s going to take a little more practice before I feel confident venturing out into traffic, but I don’t think it will take me very long. The scooter is fun to ride and I’m extremely pleased with myself for not giving in to my fear of embarrassment.
In the words of Jake from Adventure Time,
As I mentioned before, the people at Solano Cycles are fantastic. It’s owned by Martin and his mother Elayne. I absolutely recommend them to anyone thinking about purchasing a scooter or ATV. They have 4 locations; Orange Park, Jacksonville Beach, Saint Augustine (which also provides rentals) and Gainesville.