Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A new year, a new project.

I have a guilty conscience.

From what I can tell, New Year’s resolutions tend to be taken as a bit of a joke. Forgotten by Valentine’s Day.

But my conscience twinges over these resolutions. I wasn’t much one for making New Year’s resolutions, unless it was something I knew was realistic.
So when one fateful New Year’s Eve my friend and I decided to make resolutions not for ourselves, but for each other, you might have excused me for having a brief moment of panic.

But I didn’t panic.

My beautiful friend chose a resolution for me that seemed ridiculously easy, and I in turn chose something for her that seemed insanely hard.

She had not dated much in the few years since her first serious relationship had ended in a blaze of stalking, harassment and restraining orders. Understandably, my friend was a little skittish when it came to dating. So my resolution for her was that she had to date more. I wasn’t asking for a great romance, or even a boyfriend. Just dating. Which given her history was perhaps a bit cruel of me to push her if she wasn’t ready, but I truly felt she would rise to the occasion beautifully.

Whereas her resolution for me seemed so easy that it was probably a little strange that I hadn’t already done it by myself. I was to get my provisional driver’s licence. That’s it. All she wanted me to do was leave my learner’s licence behind. Which after having it for 5 years seemed imminently reasonable.

Well my friend, true to her word started dating more. She went out more. She had fun. She travelled to Spain to stay with family for the summer and partied herself silly. She had little romances. And then she met a boy. And with a little nudge in the right direction from yours truly, she leapt right into love. In that year, she went from having residual dating anxiety, to being engaged to a man she couldn’t imagine living without.

She blew the resolution I had made her out of the water. And I could not have been prouder.

I however, did not do so well.
I hate driving. I honestly do.

When I first had lessons many years before the resolution, I ended up in tears. My instructor couldn’t understand my fears. Did he not understand? Driving is one of the most dangerous activities you can undertake, and I had no confidence in my ability to safely manoeuvre a car.

I grew up without a car, we walked, cycled and caught public transport everywhere. There was nothing wrong with my legs, why should I not use them? I finished my course of driving lessons feeling no more comfortable driving, but with the ability to do the basics. And then? Nothing. I did not drive again for almost 18 months. My husband (who was my boyfriend of several months at the time) had just gotten his full licence, and decided that he should teach me to drive.

There were dramas. There were tears. There were meltdowns.

But he was so patient, and so determined, that I started seeing improvements. What do you know, I was actually capable of driving a manual car! My confidence was growing.

Then on Mother’s Day of that year, whilst I was driving the 2 hours to see my mother, I was run off the road by someone who saw my L plate as reason enough to disregard my safety and that of the people in the car with me. He didn’t just run me off the road though, I lost control of the car and spun across 3 lanes of traffic, two of which were oncoming.

We were so very very lucky. We ended up in a ditch on the other side of the road, unharmed, not a mark on the car, with me wide eyed with my foot planted on the brake. I was shaking, I couldn’t move, and when my husband told me we were okay, I fell to pieces. Several other cars stopped to check on us, and when they saw we were fine, one took off after the idiot he had seen run me off the road.

My confidence was shot. My mother had me drive her tiny little auto after she heard what had happened, but I was jumpy. I just about swerved off the road if cars came near me. It took several months of coaxing before I would willingly drive again, and I was uncomfortable and edgy the whole time.

So perhaps my story does have some parallels with that of my friend after all. We both set each other tasks that would push us out of our comfort zones.

She rose to the occasion. I did not.

I drove more. But I hated it. I practiced what I needed to do to pass the test, but I had no confidence. I repeatedly put off booking in to sit the teat, despite my husband (by then my fiancée) insisting that I had mastered the skills necessary.
I put off booking the test so long that the next available date to sit the test was several weeks into the New Year. I failed by default, because I was too afraid to try.

Then I undertook the driving test and failed anyway.

The examiner said it was only by a few marks, that I should resit in a couple of weeks, that he was sure that if I got the better of my nerves that I would be fine.

I didn’t resit.

Four years later, I have still not attempted to get my provisional licence again.
I have however had someone run up the tail end of our shiny new car the first time I drove it.

I have failed in my New Year’s resolution in a most cowardly manner.

So it may seem strange that I have already made a New Year’s resolution for this next year. Almost two months away, but I am already excited about it.

I am starting a project, similar to the A Photo A Day style projects that some people have undertaken with such beautiful results (seriously, that video made me cry the first time I watched it... And just made me cry again with a huge smile on my face, and tears streaming down my cheeks).

I will draw a picture every day next year. In the past I have complained about how rusty my artistic skills have gotten. Well it is time to do something about it.

I am calling it Drawing it Out, and I am excited.

And I may even find time to shut up that little niggling voice in the back of my head and just get my damn licence already…

Or maybe not.

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