When I started driver’s ed, I was terrified of driving. I’d been in a serious car accident about a year before, so the thought of even being in a car, let alone driving one, filled me with dread. To make matters worse, my driver’s ed teacher was a cranky recent divorcee named Mr. Vaughn who wore gray outfits every single day. Just being in classes with him was bad enough, and I was planning on putting off driving with Mr. Vaughn until I felt comfortable with it. Which would be, you know, never. But then one day when I was out with friends, Mr. Vaughn called my house to set up a driving time and ended up speaking to my dad, who cheerfully signed me up to drive. The next day.
Since I’d literally never driven a car before, I freaked out and made my dad take me out right that minute. And then I promptly almost drove into a ditch. Basically, it wasn’t pretty. As I was creeping along the highway going a healthy ten miles below the speed limit, someone honked and angrily blazed around me. Shaking with nerves, I shouted, “I need to go faster!”
And that’s when Papa W., in his infinite calm, said the words I still tell myself today whenever I’m freaking out: “Don’t worry about everyone else around you. Just go the speed you’re comfortable going.”
I’ve been a late bloomer in just about every area of my life. I didn’t learn to ride my bike until third grade. I was always the oldest kid in my swimming lessons class. I didn’t actually end up getting that license until I was 17, and I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was 18. I didn’t get married until I was 26 (okay, so that one’s actually young, but try telling that to the women my mom runs into at the grocery store in my hometown).
Some people are built for speed, but I’ve always been a slowpoke. I mean that literally (uh, have you seen me run? No you have not, because I go very slowly and look terrible.) and figuratively. Sure, once I decide to do something I tend to jump right in, but it takes me a hell of a long time to get there.
Some of us are just slow, and that’s okay. We’re all moving along at different speeds, but like I’ve said before, there’s no checklist for being an adult. There aren’t any deadlines for when you need to reach those “important” personal or career goals. Recently, I’ve been reading a ton of wonderful books by super-talented writers who are my age. I haven’t published a book yet, because my book…well, it’s not exactly finished. But that’s okay. I’m going the speed I’m comfortable going. These revisions might take me forever, and this might not even be the book I publish. I might write 15 other novels before the public ever reads one (let’s hope it’s not quite that many, though). But that’s okay. This is my speed. It’s okay to be learning, and learning slowly. It’s okay to be figuring it out. It’s okay to not keep up with everyone else.
So, fellow slowpokes, when it feels like everyone else is speeding around you and honking their horns, just remember the words of Papa W. No, not “I think I’m gonna make Same Love my ringtone,” which is a real thing he said to me a couple of weeks ago (my dad: Macklemore’s target audience). Go the speed you’re comfortable going. Let everyone else pass you if they want. You don’t need to go any faster.
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