In the spring of 2019 my then sixteen year old daughter and I finally agreed it was time to get on the highway. We rode in what would soon be her compact Honda Fit. The orange car was in good shape even if had recently celebrated ten years on the road. She had her permit in her purpose and a destination that gave her extra motivation. The mall. A fashionista at heart, I knew this might help her conquer the fear of I-20.
We strapped in and headed towards the westbound lane. The 18-wheeler trucks took up what seemed like every other space and I knew that once they hit the highway they seemed to lose all regard for speed. I didn’t tell her that. It was enough that the draft from their large bodies was enough to cause the car to shake, requiring extra control. She needed to focus on that and merging.
The On Ramp
We made it down the ramp and were lucky enough to have a gap after hitting tge brakes just once (hard) because of a fast approaching 18-wheeler in the far right lane she was merging into. My hands and body clenched but I kept my voice steady, pretending to be confident so she would be. The miles from the on-ramp to the exit were met with her trying to follow every lesson she’d gotten on and off the road while she almost gave herself cramped muscles in her hands from the death grip she had on the wheel. My heart beat faster. When we got there she asked if I’d drive back. It had shaken her.
I didn’t really know how much until last week. We were driving back to the same mall and she laughed at herself and how she would not go places if the only way to get there was the highway. She’d cancel or make up a reason she couldn’t come. Because of the merge. Getting onto that highway and not knowing what to expect can paralyze us. It can keep us from enjoying our lives and where that road will take us. She would detour, adding sometimes double the time to get there, instead of taking the direct route- because of fear.
Avoiding the Highway
I thought about how many times I’ve avoided merging into some situation or opportunity that seemed scary or too risky. Would I make it successfully? Could I get hurt? What if no one lets me in? What if I can’t get up to speed fast enough?
Then she said something that made me sit back. She said she finally decided to go somewhere and she was scared when she got to the highway but before she got down to merge she told herself, “You got this.” You got this. There is always a highway we have to merge onto in order to get to our next destination. Remember when the time comes you didn’t get there by accident and you are not alone.
You got this. Whatever you set out to do in 2021 go merge and prosper.
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