Scaring Myself Every Day for My Son’s Sake

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I’m starting a new job in a completely new industry from the one I had spent my entire post-collegiate career. This job is one that I accepted for a multitude of reasons, but high on the “pro” list was that it would afford me almost two more hours per night at home with my son. To do that, I had to trade in my monthly Metro-North train pass for a car lease.

This may sound very strange to some, but at 31, this is my first car. I only got my license at 20 (I didn’t feel I needed it earlier) and only drove on occasion (I didn’t feel the need to otherwise). And as an occasional driver, I was a nervous driver. And nervous drivers aren’t good drivers. Knowing I was a nervous (and therefore not very good) driver didn’t fuel me with motivation to practice, either.

The first time I drove over a bridge was on my way to the interview for my new job. Highways and bridges always scared me, so I avoided them at all costs. Since highway driving scared me, I never went out of my way to volunteer to drive my husband and I to family events. So he did all the driving. In fact, from the time I was pregnant to over a year after my son’s birth, I didn’t drive at all. I just walked or took public transportation on solo outings.

But I would not allow my fear of merging onto highways and crossing over bridges to stand in my way of pursuing a job opportunity that was right for my family.

And letting fear guide my decisions is not behavior I want to model for my son.

And it’s not just any bridge. I’m crossing the Tappan Zee every day. Talk about conquering fears!

It’s not just driving. Changing careers as drastically as I have has also been incredibly scary. Staying with what you know is so much safer and easier. But I wasn’t happy in my old job, and I didn’t want my son to take from my example that happiness should not be expected from your work. My hands shook as I accepted the offer to the recruiter, but as soon as the phone call was done, I was filled with a relieving sense of calm. I did something scary and was the better for it.

My post-pregnancy weight loss journey has been, well, a journey. It hasn’t gone as well as I would have liked it to, and I’ve just decided to avoid my bathroom scale altogether for the time being. I  know that my current relationship with food and exercise isn’t very healthy, so I want to push myself in this area for his sake.

While I don’t want my son to think that your weight determines your worth, I want to model for him that exercise can be a fun and organic part of your day, that you should put good food into your body, and that emotions should not dictate what and when you eat. I also want to avoid negative self-talk around my body. I don’t want him to hear me call myself fat or complain about the size on my clothing tags.

And as someone who’s been down this road before, weight loss can be scary. It’s scary to examine what, how, and why you eat. It’s scary to pay attention to how often you move your body and how your body responds to physical activity. And it’s scary to push yourself when it’s so much easier to sit back.

Breaking outside of my habits and routines has been terrifying. But boy, has it been liberating. I don’t think I’m going to take a trapeze class anytime soon, but my hope is that I can find those small opportunities to conquer fear, dismiss self-doubt, and lead by example.

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