What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

Have you ever been sitting around with your girlfriends, and eventually someone will ask,

“Would you rather have a personal chef, chauffeur, or stylist?”

Your answer says a lot about you, but I’m the only person I know who’ll choose a chauffeur every time.

I’m not a bad driver. I got a 100% on my driver’s test last summer. See—

And I don’t dislike driving. It’s sort of relaxing.

But I have problems with spatial reasoning, and I get lost very easily. I can follow written directions to the letter, but it’s like I’m missing the part in my brain that tells me where I’m located in the world. Compass directions are meaningless, and I have no comprehension as to how roads connect to each other or how far distances really are.

When Chris is driving and I’m in the passenger seat, as we arrive at our destination, it feels like we teleported there (bamf!), and I have no recollection of the route we just traveled.

So, since I get lost often, I’m always anxious when I have to drive.

I get caught up in worst case scenarios, convinced that I’m about to meet some horrible doom the next time I get behind the wheel.

Do you struggle with overcoming imagined fears?

Here are 3 questions that help me move forward despite my fears.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Really, go there. Map out the extreme worst case scenario. Don’t hold back, and get as detailed as possible.

My worst case scenario goes something like this: I’ll be driving alone at night by myself, and I’ll get lost. I’ll become so scared and frightened that I’ll drive off the road and land upside down in a ditch. No one will know I’m there, and a family of grizzly bears will rip off the car doors and eat me alive. Then the mama grizzly will choke on one of my ribs, and the baby bears will be orphaned. Without anyone to care for them, the baby bears will wander aimlessly until one of them starves, one of them gets hit by a truck, and another is shot by hunters. My lousy sense of direction will not only result in my death, but I’ll be responsible for the dwindling grizzly bear population! There goes my dream of winning a Nobel Peace Prize!

What’s the most likely thing that could happen?

Think about what is the most realistic outcome, seriously. Be honest with yourself, even if you have to admit that there’s no real danger.

OK, so the most likely thing that will happen to me is that I’ll get lost, have to pull over someplace to ask for directions, and feel stupid. Gee, I guess that’s not so terrible after all.

Is the risk worth taking anyway?

Life is scary, but we’ll never grow unless we take risks. So, ask yourself if this risk is worth taking even if the most likely unpleasant scenario happens.

After careful analysis, I almost always face my fear (in this case, driving) and do it anyway. Sometimes I have to make 3 or 4 U-turns before I get to my destination. Sometimes I call Chris while crying from the side of the road. Sometimes I park at a gas station and look over the map again.

I still don’t like driving, but I haven’t once gotten anywhere near the worst case scenario. If I can get over my imagined fears, then so can you.

And all the grizzly bears can breathe a sigh of relief.

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  1. KrisWithaK on March 8, 2015 at 9:09 am

    I am SO the same with spatial reasoning! I use google maps on my iPhone ALL the time – even in my small city where I’ve lived most of my life.

    BUT I find that letting go of the worst case scenario and imagining that there will always be another route (*robot voice says* RREEEE-CALLLL-i-BRAAAAATE-INNNNnnnNG).

    Screw you, Fear! Let’s go for a road trip!!


  2. Put on Your Oxygen Mask First - Sweet and Sage on July 5, 2013 at 1:22 am

    […] I travel a lot, and thankfully I’m not afraid of flying. (Bears are another story…) […]

  3. Cara on March 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Your worst case scenario made me laugh out loud. I also hate getting lost at night, its one of my worst fears. In the past when I’ve been lost in an area where you do not want to be lost and have resorted to singing silly songs to myself to stay calm!

    • Sage on March 12, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      All the bears around here can rest easy knowing that my worst case scenario is extremely unlikely. I sing in the car to calm myself down too! Singing Madonna while doing my U-turns…

  4. Shybiker on March 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    I love your blog. Well… actually, I love you but that would sound creepy so let’s just leave it at “I love your blog.”

    The humor of your worst-case scenario story is very entertaining. I’m equally capable of imagining implausible outcomes and worrying about them. I think, when I was a child, I accidentally started the Vietnam War. I disobeyed my mother and set off a chain-reaction of events…

    • Sage on March 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      Haha! It’s OK, let’s be creepy. I love you too!

      It’s only when I start thinking about worst case scenarios and killing innocent bears do I realize how silly I’m being. Starting a war seems pretty far fetched, but I can completely understand how it seems possible to a child.

  5. Anna@ThriftyBusiness on March 11, 2012 at 6:16 am

    I would absolutely choose a chef. Though I can cook a limited amount of meals and get by (I obviously have – I’m still alive and not malnourished) I still hate the kitchen because it’s a time sucker. The worst that can happen here is that I won’t get enough time to do what I want in a day because I have to cook. Sometimes this is also the most realistic scenario 🙁 I’m just not very efficient!

    On the bright side my spatial abilities are good enought that I can plot a full route after a couple of times of driving it. And I’m looking forward to the summer so I can sign up for a racing course!

    So yes – death to cooking >:(

    • Sage on March 12, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      My cooking is kind of blah, so I wouldn’t mind a chef either. That racing course sounds exciting (and scary)! Can’t wait to see pictures of you zooming around in a race car.

  6. Cara on March 8, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    My husband has that spatial problem as well, and hates driving. I have learned, however, not to do the “what’s the worst that could happen” game with him, because he can’t move on to the “what’s the most likely thing to happen” stage after that!!

    • Sage on March 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      I know, sometimes it’s hard to move past the worst case scenario, but it’s only when I go off the deep end (bears, really?) that I realize how silly I’m being.

      I feel like people think I’m stupid because I can’t comprehend how locations/roads fit in relation to each other. I practice and practice, but it still feels like everything is floating in space.

  7. Tinfoil Tiaras on March 8, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    1) You look adorable in polka dots and red, 2) I love the colour of your car, 3) I would choose a chef, that’s always been a dream of mine, 4) I am so grateful for my car’s built in GPS system- I can’t navigate home without it- I’m hopeless!, 5) My worst case car scenario is being stranded in the dark, with no-one around and being axe murdered- probably seen too many Criminal Minds!

    • Sage on March 8, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      Aw, thanks for the compliment! I was feeling peppy and in the mood for polka dots. I love our car (which is a shame because driving is stressful); it’s a bright orange Honda Fit. It’s small enough for me, but still sporty enough for Chris. GPS is a very good thing.

      Axe murderers frequent my worst case scenarios too (TV has rotted my brain).

  8. Megan Gann on March 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I totally have that spatial problem, although it extends to me not realizing how big a car is/how to maneuver the car around and not hit things. I also tend to be inattentive while in the car and feel like I “teleport” places.

    I still have my learner’s but need to be brave, drive the area near the testing center and go take my damned test. It’s been nearly 4 years of having a permit.

    But I also tend to have panic attacks around doctors/police/uniformed individuals. So that adds in an extra layer of resistance. Going to read those articles asap.

    • Sage on March 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm

      Please do read the articles! I really try to find other content that I think would be helpful to my readers. Subscribing to dozens of blogs is my “research” so it’s not wasting time, right?

      I really wish I could understand how things fit in the world in relation to other things. It makes me feel stupid, but practicing doesn’t improve it. It feels like telling a colorblind person to get over it and see things normally. My brain doesn’t work that way.

      Be brave! You can do it! And once you get your license, then you can decide when you want to drive (or not) and not have the lack of a license weighing on you. Keep us updated on your progress on your blog.

  9. Molly on March 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I love to drive, and have a very hard time being a passenger (because of a bad accident I was in and I get car sick easily), but like you, I have no sense of direction and can get lost very easily. Night time driving is horrendous for me, too, because I also get the spatial thing. Can’t tell how far away other cars are. ugh! I think it’s great that you’re driving, anyway, and facing those fears. Thinking of terms of what’s the worst that could happen and what would most likely happen is great!

    • Sage on March 8, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      I don’t know if I should feel glad that so many people are commenting that they have the same probelm…it’s so frustrating.

      Sometimes I really have to force myself to get in the car and be a big girl. My spatial problems haven’t gotten better with practice, but I haven’t been eaten by bears either.

      My night vision was bad until I had laser eye surgery a few years ago. Now everything’s crisp and clear, day or night. I’m glad I was a good candidate for the surgery because I was getting so sick of wearing glasses.

  10. xvavaveganx on March 8, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Awesome post! I have to tell you first of all that without even reading your answer, I immediately said chauffeur! It’s only because I hate driving. Except super early in the morning when i’m the only one out. Then it is relaxing.

    I am the kind of person that immediately jumps to the worst case scenario. I’m a major hypochondriac. Like no joking around seriously a hypochondriac that has diagnosed myself with every terminal illness imaginable. The worst case is clearly that I’ll suffer from a horrible illness and die. I know logically it most likely isn’t the case (see, I’m that much of a hypochondriac I said most likely!) but my first thought always goes there. Then the anxiety that comes from the thoughts intensifies whatever it is that I’m actually suffering from. A vicious cycle! I know I need to take a deep breath and relax and realize that I take good care of myself and it’s in my head. And if I am actually still sick just go to the dr. and check it out.

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only one with driving fears also!

    • xvavaveganx on March 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm

      Oh AND I have spatial issues while driving too. I curb the car all the time because I can’t tell how far the curb is, my parking is hilarious and I can never tell how close or far a car is. Add to the fact that night time driving is horrible for me because my eyes are sensitive to the glare of other cars’ headlights (oncoming and behind me).

      • Sage on March 8, 2012 at 8:26 pm

        That’s so weird that you’re a hypochondriac because you do take really good care of yourself. Your meals on your blog are a million times healthier than mine (vegan ice cream does not count as a vegetable, much to my dismay).

        My spatial reasoning doesn’t get better with practice. I know that it’s just how my brain works (or doesn’t work), but it still makes me feel stupid.

        I was explaining to Molly (see comments section for this post) that I used to have bad night vision before I had laser eye surgery. I remember the glare being really bad when I used to wear glasses.