(This post is dedicated to my friend, Diane.)
I am not brave.
When people say that I'm brave for riding my bike/ riding my bike alone/ riding my bike in the winter, I just tell them no, I'm not brave. Someday we will live in a world where it is normal to do these things and there won't be so much anxiety and fear around transporting yourself by bicycle.
I am not brave.
I get anxious when I meet new people, when I go to a party where I don't know anyone, at job interviews, when I try a new type of cuisine, when I travel to unfamiliar places, when I am up somewhere high, around fireworks, in water I can't see through to the bottom, around dogs that I don't know... I'm nervous and afraid of a lot of things.
I used to be afraid to ride a bike!
It is not a secret anymore that I didn't really learn how to ride a bike, on the street, in traffic until I was well into adulthood. I was just too afraid of cars, my own abilities, but mostly of the unknown. One day I just decided enough was enough and I just started to do it. Put the fear in my back pocket for a few hours every day and did what I wanted to do.
This, however, does not make me brave. Pretty soon the anxiety and fear dissipated into rational caution, and although I can still get worked up if I'm on a busy road with no shoulder or I'm being confronted by an aggressive driver, I'm able to move myself how I want to on my bike without being controlled by The Fear.
At the last Grease Rag I made the comment that I'm always really impressed with the people that come in for the first time when they don't know anyone, they've never been to the shop, and they are potentially exploring a topic outside of their comfort zone. SO AWESOME. I went on and on how these WTFs are brave and how the first time that I came to Grease Rag (not knowing anyone, totally outside of my comfort zone) I was really nervous and almost didn't come out!
One by one, almost all of the people there offered that they were "terrified" the first time they came in. I was completely surprised! I see these strong, independent, adventurous people walking in through the door, ready to get greasy, learn from one another and meet new people, and I never would guess that they have the same kinds of fears and social anxieties that I have. It is good for me to remember that.
I just want to put it out there that I think it's a gutsy thing to show up to a new space and put yourself out there. I respect that, Grease Rag'rs! So if you've never come out for a Grease Rag, just know that you will be welcomed when you are ready to give it a shot.