grinding gears

I’ve always driven a standard car. At first, it wasn’t by choice. While all my friends were getting sweet new automatic cars, my parents told me I couldn’t get my license until I learned to drive my mom’s old Toyota Carolla with a standard transmission. And while I eventually got it down, I spent a lot of time grinding gears.

That green Toyota Carolla took me through high school and college. Then, when I bought my first car after college, I made sure to get a standard. There is just something supremely satisfying about the feel of a standard car when you’re driving it. And, if I’m being honest, I loved giving a ride to a male coworker or love interest and how vocal they were about how emasculated they felt about me driving a standard.

It’s silly. But I live for that sense of superiority.

As with all things though, there’s a downside. Even though I’ve been driving a stick for about half my life, I still find myself grinding gears. Sometimes traffic is rough and I make a pretty evasive maneuver to get into the next lane. If everything isn’t timed just right, I might let my foot slip off the clutch a little too quick and grind the gears. Or, when I’m braking suddenly in front of the elementary school across the street. Sometimes a kid will just dash out in front of you. And even though you’re going the school zone speed, you still gotta hit the brakes hard.

Or, as is most often the case, sometimes I’m just a little zoned out in standstill traffic, and come to only to realize I should’ve gone 3 seconds ago and I’m holding up traffic. In my rush to get the car going, I grind the gears.

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Now here’s the part where I take this out of the realm of driving and show you this was a metaphor all along.

Sometimes, in life, you get that rush to get something going. Sometimes you want to start a new project and you feel like everyone else has left the starting line. So you rush to make it happen only to realize that you’ve screwed up somehow. That’s what it feels like when you’re grinding gears.

Sometimes, you have all this anxious energy and you want to put it into something. Only, you can’t. No matter how hard you try to make something happen, to get something started, you find yourself stutter stepping at the start line. That’s what it feels like when you’re grinding gears.

Sometimes, you’ve got everything set up and ready to go. You’ve done all the back-end work and it’s time to make some dream of yours into a reality. Only a loved one steps out in front of you and you have to come to screeching halt because your life is about them too. That’s what it feels like when you’re grinding gears.

All this is to say that I’ve felt really stuck lately. I’m not sure why. I’ve been trying to make headway on so many things, but I feel like I’m always stuck at the start line. It’s frustrating and exhausting. And it feels exactly like it does when I’m on the road and I find myself grinding gears.

What about you? Have you felt a little stuck lately? Have you felt like you’re grinding gears?

2 Responses

  1. I drove a standard until two years ago, similar situation. My dad came home with my first car, bought off of his coworker—a super cute Mercury Capri—and my next truck after was a standard. I really wanted another standard when we got the toddler mobile but while I had taught my husband to drive standard years ago he absolutely hated it and only drove it when in dire circumstances. Therefore I’d be the one driving on all road trips in the toddler mobile if we got a standard, so I opted for an automatic this go-round.

    I still find myself trying to shift gears, two years later. I’ll probably return to standard cars one day!

    And yes, I totally understand the metaphor…hang in there!

    1. Thanks, lady!

      And every time I borrow my brother’s car, I go into a panic looking for the clutch so I can shift gears, only to realize that it’s an automatic. It’s so weird how your brain gets wired to do something like that.

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