How Saying “I Can’t” Can Lead to “I Can”

“I wasn’t sure you were going to be able to do it,” my friend said, relieved to learn that I had become brave enough to drive my new Vespa-like motor scooter to work and back home (a 30-minute commute each way) within days of the first driving lesson he gave me. I admitted I was a bit worried about that too because I was feeling so afraid in this new, much more vulnerable driving position… and explained how I had made myself go a little further on the scooter each day and spent time reasoning with my emotional side; using the fact that I was driving in a mellow town at slow speeds to fuel my bravery. I really wanted to be a scooter girl – save money on gas and have more fun while driving – and that’s what I did. I’m not the type of girl to let fears stop her.

Los Caped Barbarinos – 4th of July, 2013

Within months, I became co-founder of a scooter group called Los Caped Barbarinos. We rode wearing capes to spread silliness and smiles. I roamed thousands of miles by scooter over the years, including multiple trips from Santa Barbara to Orange County. The hardest part about deciding to move to Las Vegas was accepting the fact that I’d have to sell my scooter and leave that part of my life behind for a while. The one that I had would not be able to handle the spring and summer heat… and I’d prefer a larger engine for the big city… and I didn’t want to have to worry about it getting stolen from the parking lot…. and I couldn’t (and still can’t) afford a “better” scooter or a place to live (almost 2 years later). So… I was more than a little excited (I jumped up and down crying, squealing, and smiling with joy) when I got the message confirming that my buddies who planned a scooter stomp in Las Vegas would be bringing an extra scooter so I could ride along.

I was a little nervous about how I would feel while scootering for the first time in “forever” but I showed up early and drove around the parking lot for a few minutes and I felt good. It was, as they say, like riding a bike. I got pretty nervous a few times on the first outing thanks to the many less than courteous drivers around Las Vegas, but I was able to quickly talk myself down with a few rational thoughts and deep breaths. 

The second ride didn’t go nearly as well. No one was hurt (thank goodness) unless you count my bruised ego. As the leader turned on his blinker to get on the I-15, I thought, “Oh please no.” I hadn’t asked the full details before the ride and had assumed that the route was suitable for 125cc and above, avoiding the freeway. I was never a big fan of high-speed driving and had never driven so fast on such tiny wheels. A few miles into the ride, I got off the freeway despite the fact it was clear that the ride route continued straight. I had been trying to calm myself down since the moment we got on but was only getting more anxious. I called ahead to the group to explain and one friend circled back to ride with me as the rest waited for me to calm down and catch up… but I only made it two more exits before giving up again. The wind gusts that come with high speeds were making me too anxious to enjoy myself. Knowing we had 20 more miles before we hit back roads (where the speed limits only decrease a little), 100+ total miles left in the ride, and that the group was heading back into town from my side of the city, I headed home to relax, recover, and drive in on the slower route to meet them. 

That was the plan, at least. Unfortunately, the daily wind gusts had kicked in once I hit the road on my second attempt to scoot off into the wilderness, making me feel just as unsafe as I did cruising beside semis. I drove well under the speed limit since the road was mostly deserted, pulling off when cars began to approach so I wouldn’t slow them down. Still, I didn’t go very far before turning back towards home for more R&R. I wanted to go meet my friends more than anything, but I couldn’t get past my fear to enjoy the ride. 

As I sat at home waiting to meet up with the group, the winds got even stronger. I kept looking outside, thinking that I might not have gotten up early for the ride at all if I had known there were 25 mph wind gusts in the forecast. I knew I could do the remainder of the ride with my friends without getting too overwhelmed by fear, but I wasn’t exactly excited about it anymore. When I finally rejoined the pack more than four hours after I left them, I quickly learned that the wind had been hard on everyone else too. Nerves were shot. Everyone looked ready for the ride to be over. They gave me the “safety award” for knowing that I needed to stay behind and confirmed that driving conditions were pretty stressful even if driving a heavier bike with larger wheels. 

My friends let me take the lead for a bit when we left the last pit stop and it felt pretty awesome to see all of them in my rear-view mirrors (like old times made new). The wind was fierce and making me really work hard to stay balanced, but I managed to get back to enjoying the ride. In fact, I was having such a great time cruising and singing along to the music playing through my headphone (singular – one ear was open) that I didn’t hear my scooter buddies all honking at me as they slowed down to turn. I’m not sure how long they were gone before I noticed they weren’t following me. The actual leader of the ride had listened to his GPS, taking the fastest route, and the group followed. I pulled over for a moment once I realized to make sure they weren’t behind me, then shrugged and cruised along my way, arriving at the destination not long after everyone else. (Normally the scooter crew would come looking for a “lost” member of the pack, but I guessed correctly that they didn’t this time because they were certain I knew where I was going.) 

Interestingly enough, although having my crew in my rear-view mirrors had helped immensely when I was still trying squash my fear of the wind when we began the final leg of the ride, the anxiety did not return for one second when I found myself flying solo. I had pushed myself just hard enough to break through the emotional barrier that had been holding me back all day. I was better than fine. I felt braver than when I began the day and perhaps even braver than ever before. Before this weekend, I didn’t think I would feel comfortable cruising alongside the crazy drivers of Las Vegas by myself. I thought I needed my crew with me to feel safe… but now I know that’s not true.

I learned later that the group had taken the freeway again when we got separated and at least a few others wished they could have avoided that stress like I did.  I wish I’d told them they had the option… and was extra glad I spent nearly all my moments of free time that day writing this post – organizing my thoughts to share the deeper truth that I was seeing thanks to this experience, excited to explain my ways to anyone who cares to read in hope of helping others figure out what route they want to take in life. If you read my other posts, you might think I always push through my fears and, in a way, I do… but it doesn’t mean that I never say, “I can’t.” I’m grateful I got the chance to show that the key to “always” moving forward is knowing your limits and figuring out what steps you are comfortable taking that lead to, “I can.”

Despite the fact that fear disrupted my ability to enjoy some of the time I’d allotted to scoot with my friends, I still managed to live two moments that I have dreamt of experiencing since I moved here; moments I wasn’t sure would ever become real. We cruised The Strip at night and, better yet, I was in the lead when we took one of my favorite turns towards town. It didn’t happen exactly how I hoped things would go, but it got me exactly where I wanted to be. With any luck, I’ll be able to say the same soon about my artist and writer life… and/or my poker dreams… and/or the presence of romance. 

Living the Dream

I’m pretty sure I’m turtley scooting closer and closer towards achieving my goals every day because I also seek to master the art of never giving up. Learning how to balance between pushing through and listening to your fears is truly hard work sometimes, but I hope you can see me as living proof that it is worth attempting. Like most, I often get upset when forced to alter my course, but I have learned it’s best not to fight the winds of change. They might be there to shift you into the right direction; blow you where you wanted to go all along; help you remember how to enjoy the ride. Like this weekend’s scooter ride, moving to Las Vegas wasn’t all fun and games, but… I keep seeing signs that the path I’ve chosen to travel is the right one for me… and it will likely make all the difference; make me capable of achieving all I’ve dreamed of and more.

Check out this Instagram reel to see how happy scootering makes me.

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