I’m learning to drive a stick shift!
I’d tried driving stick a handful of times before, without much success. The first time was in a friend’s Honda in Minnesota, then a minivan when I was an au pair in Switzerland, then in a Mini in Italy, then again in Minnesota in a Mazda. So I can say that I’ve been given driving lessons in three countries and still haven’t learned. But in my defense, 2/3 of those places were pretty hilly.
When I came out to California earlier this summer, I knew that I would eventually have to learn because it’s the only car available to me here. How bad could it be?
It was pretty bad.
I’ve stalled in intersections. I’ve had drivers honk at me. I’ve panicked when a Tesla pulls up right to my bumper when I’m stopped on a hill. I’ve had times when I came really close to giving up trying to learn. But with practice, it’s starting to click.
And I have to tell you, I have so much respect for people who drive stick now. So much respect. If you’ve only driven an automatic, you just have no idea how much harder other drivers are working to do things you take for granted.
I’m still intimidated by the highways here, because California drivers are intense! And as for parallel parking on Steiner Street in downtown San Francisco, yeah that level of expertise is a loooong way off. It’s hard for me to face my fears and take risks, but I’ve got to do it and drive just a little farther every day.
How to get out of your comfort zone and try something new
Here are three things that have helped me so far in my new endeavor that takes me out of my comfort zone every time I get in the driver’s seat.
A calm attitude. When I get impatient or anxious while driving stick, I’m more likely to make sudden movements like releasing the clutch too quickly and stalling.
Put pride aside. It’s okay to be a beginner. I announce it loud and proud with a bright yellow magnet on the back of the car that says “Learning to Drive a Stick Shift.” Seriously, this is the best thing I’ve done while learning to drive stick shift.
Keep going. Giving up is tempting, but most things do get easier with practice. I’m so proud of my ability to drive stick now. I feel more capable and confident having this new skill.
What’s one thing you’ve done to get out of your comfort zone and try something new?