moving forward

September 25th, 2012   |   LifeThink About It

The great thing about designing a life with intention is that it allows us to reflect on our lives and find ways to move past fears and limiting beliefs.

Without a personal drive to push past our comfort zone, we can end up stalled in some area of our life.

For me, I have created a new intention to push past a very real, but seemingly silly fear: driving.

Over the past decade I have not owned a car or driven more than a handful of times. When I was in high school I shared a blue Blazer with my brother. But I never purchased one in college or in Chicago.

In fact, I chose to live in Chicago partly because I loved the transportation system. I preferred to spend more money on my apartment than splitting my budget on a car and apartment combined.

And even though I was never a bad driver, the sheer lack of driving over the past ten years has left me gun shy.

Yet this never was a big issue because I never had a car.

However, this summer Mr. Lively’s parents generously gifted us their 2006 Toyota Prius.

Which Mr. Lively drives almost exclusively.

He drives it the most because he loves driving and I am afraid to drive, especially in Chicago. The city is much more challenging to navigate than my hometown of Rochester, Michigan where I learned to drive in 2001.

This means my current self-imposed driving ban is now actively limiting potential convenience and my driving independence. And if I really think about it, I believe this also affects my self-confidence more than I’d like to admit.

Sure, I could hide behind valid excuses like taking the bus is better for the environment and cheaper than gas. Which is true. But the deeper truth for me is that I am scared that I will mess up somehow, go down a one-way road the wrong way, or… get honked at.

Yes, I know this sounds so silly. But to me in my head, it really does feel scary.

I have no fear of speaking on national television, sharing my life here on the blog, taking my business full-time after college, ending my business, or a million other things. But the simple act of driving has me worried and leading a limited life.

As the title of this post states, I am quite literally stopping myself from moving forward.

And I want to change that.

Tonight I am going to talk with Mr. Lively about this intention and see if he is cool with me driving us 90% of the time. Long car trips aside, where we share the driving, the short runs can be left to me. This will help me to feel more confident. Over time, I hope that I will feel more comfortable driving on my own.

Once I am driving solo easily, he can regain the drivers seat on our shared trips.

I have a feeling that if I don’t take these proactive steps now to get more familiar with driving in the city, I will prolong the undue worry and continue to limit myself. Plus, I’ll never actually be getting better at driving in the city – which is really all I need to prove to myself in the first place.

As I take these next steps to push myself out of the passenger seat in my life, I encourage anyone else who is limiting themselves in some way to move past their fears with me.

We can do this. We just gotta start with an intention and take it one step at a time.



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  • I’m the same. I’ve driven a handful of times since I moved to the city. Will and I rented a car once and I had return it for us I left an hour early to go half a mile and planned a route where I’d only have to make lefts at lights with a left-turn light (the arrow, not just a light).

  • Megan

    This post is exactly how I feel about driving. My boyfriend always drives because I hate driving in the city. I’ve driven a handful of times in the past year and somehow I was still in a hit and run accident (they hit my car.. and ran). Between traffic and construction it gives me so much anxiety. This post makes me feel much better that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  • I didn’t drive for a long time after I got my driver’s license because I was terrified. I hated driving, I refused to do it. But let me tell you that practicing and just telling yourself that it’s all good will help tremendously. The freedom of being able to drive outweighs all the fear in the end. I still have issues driving over really high/long bridges and God help me when I have to drive in Atlanta (gives me hives) but you do what you have to do and are better for it. One day you will look back and wonder why you were so scared, I swear!

  • Sarah

    I totally understand how you feel. Driving in a big city can be overwhelming. I was so terrified I was shaking the first few times I drove in NYC. After 3 years I still cant parallel park. Don’t worry, driving in the city will be less overwhelming with time & practice.

  • krissy

    I live in Philly now but used to just drive through a few years ago and every time I would take a wrong turn I would pull over and cry. Then call my dad for directions. It gets better! Just practice and PAY ATTENTION!! Sorry to use caps but being a biker and a driver in the city, it just seems like people aren’t paying attention to the act of driving and are too distracted to drive in a sane manner. Just keeping your head up and paying attention makes all the difference. Great luck! Have fun! There’s nothing better than driving by yourself with the windows down and getting to sing really loud, especially in a city when you can get pedestrians to join in (during the red lights of course).

  • I had to get used to driving again when I started nannying in the suburbs every weekday earlier this year. Scott used to have an old Blazer that I didn’t feel comfortable driving, but once we got our Honda Civic, I felt better about navigating the city streets. I still get anxious but I try to take it slow and stay focused & relaxed.

  • Janelle

    I live (and grew up in) a suburb outside of Cleveland, so driving ANYWHERE around here is always pretty tame. I drove to Chicago last summer to visit a friend and once I got into the city, it was quite overwhelming and totally different than driving at home – I think I got honked at SEVERAL times! But once I found my way around and acted with a bit more confidence, it made a world of difference. Like anything, with time and practice and patience, you’ll feel much more comfortable!

  • This post makes me feel so much better because I have never owned a car or a license. I failed my road testy twice. I say it is due to no fault of mine, the DMV peeps were at fault 🙂 and many years after I have not gone back.

    Lately it’s been nagging at me…and your post makes feel better that I am not the sole late 20s young lady with limited driving experience. Pheww! I need to do something about and I want to.

  • Adriana

    Thank you so much for this post.Really!

  • No worries Jess, once you get used to it, city driving will be no big deal. Chances are you will get honked at…you just learn to tune that out because it is usually over something stupid 🙂

  • Abby

    I didn’t get my license until I was 24, and I learned to drive in Boston: a city famous for its awful drivers. It definitely takes lots of practice and patience but it will be all worthwhile! I’m pretty sure I only passed my test because I was so nervous the State Trooper felt sorry for me.

  • Good luck! I sort of understand how you feel. My mom was terrified of driving and only took back roads everywhere, which means I had to teach myself how to drive on the highway. It was scary, but I’m glad I did it. I’ll be rooting for you!

  • Merissa

    I have the same nerves with driving. It may be helpful to start driving in the middle of the day when traffic is most calm. Good luck!

  • This is totally not silly at all. I didn’t get my license until 2 years ago at the ripe age of 31! I had taken Driver’s Ed 3xs and have taken the written test for my learner’s permit numerous times, but I couldn’t bite the bullet to actually…DRIVE. My fear stemmed from my aunt who died in a car accident (at 32) right after I had just taken my first driver’s ed course in high school. After that I was convinced that I, too was destined to die in a car crash. You know that saying that FEAR = FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL, well that’s what driving for me was for 15 years! 15 years of thinking I’m going to die in a car crash.

    Let me tell you how liberating it is to not have that fear in my mind anymore. I’m still not the best driver in the world and I sometimes get honked at, run over a curb trying to park, and yes move into a lane a bit earlier than I should, but I’m DRIVING and it’s made my life so much easier.

    I can’t wait to hear your updates on how your driving is doing!

  • SO happy to hear I’m not alone in this. I got in a really bad head on collision while driving in high school (not my fault and no one was hurt) but I’ve been pretty terrified of driving ever since. I have full access to my boyfriend’s car, but it’s a large SUV and I feel totally freaked driving it in the city. I like your idea about starting to practice with Scott in the car until you feel totally comfortable solo. I might have to give that a try with Mike. Good luck!

  • I am experiencing something similar, and it’s such a relief to see this post from you.

    My husband and I share a car, and he has to drive for work. Over the years, we’ve just sort of gotten into the habit of defaulting to him being the driver.

    But the stupid thing is, I LOVE TO DRIVE. It’s just that I don’t do it very often.

    Now that we’re in California, I am actually scared to get in the car. In Chicago, you might get get into a fender-bender, but I’ve seen some really horrific accidents on the highways here. I’m talking multi-car, high speed accidents that result in lanes of traffic getting shut down, firetruck and ambulances. Even in town, drivers regularly run red lights (and I mean RED not just changed from yellow).

    I think that fear is legitamite, but honestly, the risk isn’t any less when he drives than when I do. But it’s just been crippling. When I think of the much greater risks people around the world live with, I’m ashamed I can’t seem to get past this. I don’t really know where to go from here.

  • Janna

    I learned to drive in a very small town, but I have driven all over the country. The best way to drive where people honk a lot is simply to become a honker too! In NYC honking is a required part of driving. If someone honks at you, just honk back – don’t take it personally.

  • i too didn’t have my own car during my teenage years and only got to drive my brother’s car from time to time. Each time, i was scared to drive. I didn’t drive throughout college and i didn’t purchase my car until i was close to 30. it was scary to drive myself every where but you know what, it was so necessary for me to go through that experience. i admit though – i’m still the worst parker ever…

  • Linda

    When I first began driving in the city, I was so nervous that my shoulders and neck would ache from tension! I got over it by driving downtown at 8:00 on Sunday mornings. With no traffic or destination in mind, I could miss a turn or lose my way without pressure. And, I was able to memorize the one-way streets, parking lots and access points to my favorite stores and restaurants. City driving is stressful – no doubt about it. 🙂

  • Avery

    I bet you’ll learn to love driving. If you can get out of the city for practice sessions, I highly recommend it. Country roads or low traffic areas are best. If I learned to drive stick at 16 in a big truck on hilly roads, surely you will improve and grow more confident.

    Best of luck Mrs. Lively!

  • Good for you! Eric drives 90% of the time we are together, and I don’t miss it one bit. I only volunteer to drive when I know he needs a break from it.

    P.S. I am not a great driver…so I think he gets more nervous sitting in the passenger seat than relaxed 🙂

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  • Jessica M.

    I don’t love driving either, especially in larger cars. I don’t live in a big city, so there’s not many other options, but it’s good to know I’m not alone!

  • Karli

    Good for you! My mom lives in the suburbs of Chicago and the first time I drove in the area I was a little freaked out. Now I drive on Oahu, where we are known for the nation’s worst traffic! I did the exact same thing you’re doing to get over the fear of driving – have someone else in the car to help out. I am now more confident driving in Honolulu…I know, nothing compared to Chicago…there is a greater sense of freedom that comes along with it too! Enjoy getting to know the city from a different perspective 🙂

  • Driving in Chicago is pretty scary so I get the city-driving fear, but I’m also just uncomfortable driving in general. I’m a very anxious driver since a car accident when I was 18, so I always notice that my knuckles are white on the steering wheel and I clench my teeth! Not good. I don’t drive TOO often now, but I’m getting more comfortable. Didn’t help that for several years the only time I drove was to go to that awful job. But I do love driving on an open road with the windows down and the tunes cranked 😉