Thinking of getting fit? Embracing a healthier lifestyle? Changing your trajectory? Whatever you dream of doing, it’s important to tame the noise in that back seat and remember you’re in control.
Ever since I first got my license, I have loved the freedom of the open road. There is nothing more liberating than a sudden whim to go someplace new with a tank of gas, two cups of coffee, and a decent playlist. I’m also the crazy girl who drove her 13-day-old infant son a thousand miles to move to a new home in Fayette County, a place where I knew no one, to a house that I had never seen. We all know that indescribable joy when you finally turn off the engine, open the door, stretch the legs, and realize that you have arrived.
There were times in my life when the road was a stressful mess. For example, when my daughter was car seat little, my 20-mile commute was a two-hour torture chamber of bumper-to-bumper agony. Because this was long before portable DVD players and iPods, the only “please-remain-quiet” option I had was the CD player. After the first half-hour of Barney’s Greatest Hits, the frustration, whining, and gnashing of teeth began in the backseat… and a little in the front seat too. In my opinion, being trapped in bumper-to-bumper traffic with a ticked off toddler and a Barney CD is equivalent to waterboarding.
When I think about backseats and car trips, I think about growing up with my cousins in the 1970s. This was an 8-track tape time of life when no one wore seatbelts, and car lighters actually lit cigarettes. We used to fight over who had to sit in the middle on the hump (what was under that thing, anyway?). We gallivanted to state fairs, went out for ice cream, looked for yard sales, and visited relatives. In this time of life before smartphones, we kids didn’t have a six-hour afterschool life of being in the car and going to a plethora of planned activities. So anytime we piled in the backseat, it was truly a treat. Furthermore, it was expected that we were quiet and well-behaved.
Our life is a journey to and through so many wonderful destinations with opportunities to make such incredible memories. But as life travelers know, we might have to contend with whatever, or whoever is in our backseat. Metaphorically, these minions like to create a ruckus or cause some other distraction while we are happily driving to our destination. Perhaps you’ve heard their chaos. It’s the voice that whispers that you are stupid for driving to the gym when you could be asleep. It’s the taunt that says you’re going to fail this dream job interview. It’s the concerned voice telling you that you can’t afford to make that memory with your kids, though you know that it’s worth the debt. It’s the frustration, whining, and gnashing of teeth that occurs when you can’t seem to get anywhere in life and you’re wondering “Are we there yet?”
What you may forget is that you have a secret weapon: the rearview mirror. If things got out of control, my grandmother would look at us from that mirror and say, “Kids! Be quiet back there!” and that’s all it took to create instant silence. My mother had that superpower, plus the all-powerful eyebrow raise. We knew that if she caught our reflection in the rearview mirror if we and saw that eyebrow up, we needed to simmer down.
But they were not the only masters of this magic. You, too, wield that same power to allay your fears and anxieties about the noise that comes from the backseat drivers that are along for your ride. In your backseat, you may have doubt on the left, criticism on the right, and fear like that ridiculous center hump. So if you start to feel that backseat mutiny, just raise your eyebrow and say, “Be quiet back there!” After all, you’re in the driver’s seat. So face forward, enjoy your playlist, and drive on!