While pulling the weeds in the front yard of my parents’ home in Texas, I started to learn to accept crashing.
At my parent’s house, there is a Keurig machine that serves as the main caffeination station for the family. It was a present that I got for my mom about two or three years ago after we discovered it in a special corner of the Macy’s department store. My mom was lusting for it and it actually seemed to glow with an air of futuristic convenience — enough to even convince me to drop $200 of my hard-earned cash to get it.
In all honesty, the machine is a glorified water heater — a $200, glorified water heater. The K-Cups that supposedly do the coffee trick are in fact just coffee-pretending wastes of money. Why do I only get 36 cups of coffee for $10 dollars?
(But in all honesty, with the way I drink coffee, a $10 box of K-Cups would probably last longer than a $10 bag of beans… I know, I know; I’m a freak, whatever…)
I paid $200 to have water heat up faster and dispense in three options of volume: tall, grande, and venti — sorry, that’s not right — 8, 10, and 12 ounces…
The Keurig machine replaced our old coffee maker which used real, live coffee grinds to brew upwards of six cups. But like they always say: you never know how much you love something until it’s gone.
All I ever needed with our old coffee maker was a filter and a good dance number to do in the minutes waiting for the coffee to brew. Unfortunately, the machine was relocated by my father to somewhere in the dark, cavernous corners of our very messy garage. As much as I love coffee, I think the coffee in my heart loves me enough to tell me that a good coffee making machine isn’t worth the torturous venture of sorting through the clutter of an old garage.
As a result of our current lack of potable coffee-essence, my evening was in utter emotional disarray. Biting words were said, scary glares were thrown, and boxes were shoved. Virginia Woolf could have eloquently described the tempest of my mind in a short novel.
So instead of drinking coffee, I went outside to weed the lawn? (I’m also still confused.)
Let me set the record straight: I absolutely despise heavy-lifting, deliberate exercise, and laborious task-doing. When I’m home from college, my mom makes no attempt to disguise her plans exploit my youthful energy in helping her organize a cluttered bedroom-turned-storage (yes, yes; poor me). I don’t really make any attempt to pretend to be delighted helping my mother with heavy lifting, either.
But when there’s no coffee — god forbid — I get desperate. You see, for me, coffee relaxes, clears the mind, and puts the soul at ease. Without it, I’m tense, irritable, and sensitive to external plots to destroy me! So when I was without coffee this evening, I suddenly felt the urge to rip things from the earth. I went into the garage to fetch gloves and, with a plastic bag, proceeded to the front yard where I squatted and began work.
I certainly wasn’t putting myself in absolute hell, though, since the sun was well on its way down and the temperature outside was more than bearable. I didn’t plan on doing too much weeding either and I had music from the original soundtrack of a good Korean drama playing in my wireless earbuds (spoiled brat that I am).
In all honesty, this front-yard excursion was more of a chance to contemplate some pretty important things going on in my life. Inside, my parents were on the phone with my sister ironing out details about insurance policies and expensive premiums. My sister isn’t the best driver and both she and my parents are currently paying for it. But, working alone outside in the evening Texas air had me thinking about driving, too.
Last summer, I got into a car accident while attempting to make a left turn on some narrow roads downtown. It was my fault. My mom was in the passenger seat to my left, and she chose a cosmically perfect moment to begin discussing my plans for selecting a “good” major and finding a “good” job after college. She went on about how she wasn’t going to fund a couch potato.
Apart from heavy lifting, the other thing on this earth that I can’t tolerate at all is the sound of my mom’s agitated voice reminding me for the 143412th time that I’m on my own after graduation and that I should find a “good” job that provides for my apparently “expensive” lifestyle.
I remembered raising my voice — I remembered her raising her voice. And then as I turned the steering wheel to turn, I saw a car coming too fast. And I remembered stepping on the gas pedal as hard as I could in order to try and dodge the car that was coming. And then I remembered feeling like I was a kid in a bumper car at Putt Putt.
After the crash, I slowly maneuvered the Honda Civic to the side of the road. I don’t recall a moment in my life where I’ve managed to stay so calm in the face of something so seemingly terrifying.
A few weeks later, after the insurance work between me and the other driver was resolved, I got back on the road behind the wheel. I remembered trying with all my might to keep a clear and calm head while on the road. The repairs for the Civic were going to be expensive but my dad wasn’t furious and my mom seemed fine (as long as I’d kept my mouth shut) and so, by my logic, I was fine.
But then, I wasn’t fine.
To this day, it’s a personal guarantee I make that if I ever get behind the wheel of any vehicle that propels me forward (a car, a bike, a skateboard, etc.), I will crash and burn. In other words, I’m anxious to take the wheel again and I’m so grateful that I go to school in Philadelphia where the train governs my movement.
While pulling the weeds in the front yard, I remembered all this and I was thinking about how this fear and anxiety shape who I am; I’m scared to go behind the wheel for fear of crashing, and I’m scared to try for fear of failing.
And yet, what’s the primary advice that writers seem to give writers everywhere on Medium? If you never try, you will never learn. Your mistakes are your opportunities. Hell, I’ve probably written a thought piece on the way mistakes shape us — scratch that, I have written a piece about mistakes and character.
This contradiction lies at my core. I know that mistakes are necessary for me to grow, and during such a stressful time as the one I’m going through right now (being back home, living briefly with my parents), I believe I have the greatest opportunity to observe and learn from myself.
And yet, I’m so afraid to try all kinds of things.
I’m afraid to apply for jobs and internships.
I’m afraid that to write a story I’ve had in my head for over a year, in fear of writing something bad.
I’m afraid that if I call a person whose voice I want to hear, I’ll be rejected.
I’m afraid if I drive again, I’ll crash again, too.
But that’s just it, I guess: if I drive again, I will crash again (unless I’m perfect, and my ego is not far from declaring it).
If I keep going, I will make mistakes. But I have to keep going. More than anything, I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity to grow in the past year. I feel like I wouldn’t have ever thought this way a year ago. But I also feel like I have so much growing to do and I’m excited just thinking about everything I might undertake.
It’s tough dealing with anxieties about crashing, failing, and rejection. While pulling the weeds in the front yard of my parents’ home in Texas, I started to learn to accept crashing. It’s about time, too. Now if only I could have some good coffee.
Also read here on Andrew’s blog, Project Follow Through.