For the past 32 years, I’ve driven on the freeway of life at 100km/hr.
Sometimes, I’ve exceeded the speed limit. But, thankfully, I’ve never lost any demerit points. Other times, I’ve screeched to a grinding halt – going nowhere on the Monash ‘car park’ with no option other than to toot my own horn, along with the rest of them.
I’ve always been a high achiever, exceeding expectations and trying to please those I look up to. In the process, however, I can’t help but think I might have forgotten to please myself.
We moved around a lot when I was young. So sitting in that preverbal traffic jam now makes me just a little anxious. I just want to move forward to get to my destination! I can’t help it, I’m impatient. I want to get to the place where I can slow down to 50km/hr, use my cruise control and be happy. But what is it that will make me happy? Perhaps I should continue burning some rubber until I work it out? When I take my Mum out for a spin (she doesn’t drive), she keeps telling me to slow down and live in the moment, while she hangs onto the ‘Jesus rail’ for dear life. I tell her: I know what I’m doing, you’re not in the driver’s seat!
I went through high school aiming for an ‘A’ in class…and was terribly hard on myself on the rare occasion that I got a ‘B’, or God-forbid, a ‘C’. At university, I did a double degree over four years and aspired to, and achieved, a Distinction average.
Straight from uni, I went into gainful employment. While friends were living it up working in London, bar tending in Lisbon, or teaching English in Tokyo, I accelerated up the career highway here instead. I clocked up some good mileage and pimped my ride a number of times. Fortunately I was sensible enough to ‘do the right thing’ and took a pit stop every so often at those Driver Reviver sites to avoid crashing out. After my power nap, my coffee and Kit Kat, I’d be able to carry on refreshed. Although in taking a ‘break’, (and thus breaking the seal) waiting for the next toilet stop always seemed like an eternity.
I worked really hard at being an excellent driver, even when challenged with bumps in the road, bird shit on the windscreen and dick-heads in the back seat. Fortunately, I had mostly a smooth ride. But I can’t help that secretly wish I was riding in a red convertible: loud music, cruising smoothly along the California coast line with a very hot man. In reality, I first settled for a white, 1987 Mitsubishi Colt that had trouble climbing up Wellington Road. I’m a pretty realistic girl, though, and would never expect to jump into a flashy car before I earn the privilege.
I was proud of my work and my achievements, but after ten years of cruising along the communications highway; working for, and along side, the big wigs, Mayors, Presidents and tinpot Hitlers, I decided that my vehicle was starting to look knackered. It was overheating and needed a bloody good service before I ventured along the toll road, no turning back and no way to get a refund.
I slammed on the breaks and swerved into the emergency lane. I, again, came to a grinding halt – this time not due to a traffic jam or a car crash.
Had I not made the decision to stop myself, I feared that someone else might have made it for me. Exhausted, I called the RACV and got myself towed. I climbed into that tow truck (leg-lifted up ‘cause I’m only 5’ 1”) and was finally up high enough to see things from a different perspective, instead of lying spread-eagled on the asphalt of despair.
So, just for now, I’m at the mechanics. Not the scrap heap. And I’m nowhere near the stage where I’m going to offer someone 20 bucks to take me away. I’m taking some time out for a career tune up. I’m sure you’ll agree that’s a reasonable investment.
My mechanic told me I forgot to put water in my tank. I needed to top up my antifreeze. I’ve got a few scratches that need polishing up. Yet I’m very fixable and it shouldn’t cost too much to repair.
For the next few months, I’m taking the time to do things that I’ve always wanted to do. I’m already starting to feel calmer, happier and excited about what’s next.
I’m even planning on taking that ride down the California coast for real… and when I drive over those hills and come out at the other side, I want to feel that I can take on anything again. I’m going to be ready to accelerate up the career highway with new enthusiasm and a fresh look on life.
Who knows, this time, I might even decide to take a different route.