If others can, you can

So last Tuesday I had been planning to take the train into NYC. This is always my default — partly because I can read or work, but also just because it’s what I’ve always done. Despite living in NYC for nine years (2002-2011), I never drove in the city. I didn’t own a car and also it seemed a little…intimidating.

However, in the last few years there have been several occasions when taking the train was just going to be a hassle. Perhaps I was going somewhere not close to Penn Station (as while filming this TBT In Real Life video last summer!). Or I was taking my son in and didn’t know exactly what time we’d be able to leave. Or — as happened last week — Amtrak has been experiencing problems. I feel like post-pandemic they’ve had fewer later trains, and there’s not a lot of “give” in the system. Last Tuesday a train car got stuck somewhere between Alexandria and Washington DC, and as a result, the northbound trains for the entire east coast got messed up.

Anyway, the result is that I’ve started driving into NYC on occasion. At first this seemed like a daunting prospect. But then I had a realization. One reason there’s a lot of traffic at the tunnels/GWB is that literally thousands of people are driving in and out of NYC every day. They are not all better drivers than I am! Having lived there for nine years (and having gone in frequently since), I’m reasonably familiar with the city’s geography — such that I knew to make a Park Whiz reservation at a garage on 40th street, not 39th, since I’d be headed east coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel, and 40th street is eastbound. When I saw that my train on Tuesday was going to be delayed 2 hours, and the next train I could get was not going to get me to NYC on time, I just hopped in my car and went. If others can, I can.

Perhaps you are totally fine with urban driving. But maybe there is something else that you have built up as a big deal. If so, I find this mantra of “If others can, I can” is helpful. Many many other people have…traveled internationally…filed the paperwork to start a business…bought and sold property…run for a local office…applied to graduate school…gotten a professional license…given speeches…opened investment accounts, etc. These people do not all have some secret ability that the rest of us do not. They had someone explain the process to them or they researched it and figured it out. Those are avenues of discovery open to all of us!

Now to be sure there are some things that *not* many people have done. I am not planning on competing at the Olympics or anything like that. But driving through the Lincoln Tunnel is nothing close to that level. If others can, I can. And now I do!

In other news: Weekend highlights — my husband and I went out for dinner on Friday night, leaving the 3-year-old in the care of our older children. Our daughter helped him go to the bathroom, and didn’t even remark on it later (he told me, not her), which I felt was quite mature! On Saturday we had some friends over to go in the pool and grill. This might not seem like a huge deal, except that four days earlier, the pool had been entirely green. Something had happened while we were out of the country and it had reverted to water’s natural state (basically, a pond). My husband and the pool company launched quite a campaign of chemical balancing and now it is an inviting blue. Phew. On Sunday, the 16-year-old sang with me in the summer church choir, and then my husband took our 13-year-old to camp for three weeks. He seems to be doing OK, at least in the sense that we haven’t gotten any texts or phone calls otherwise. He’s pretty cool about things in general, so I assume it will be fine…


11 thoughts on “If others can, you can

  1. I appreciate this post! This weekend I accompanied my son to Cub Scout camp and was nervous about setting up our tent without my husband there. But I did it! (And a hammock!) I feel a little sheepish about being nervous about that now, but definitely had to give myself a pep talk prior to leaving. Now that I’ve done it, I am so much more confident and actually considering a solo camping trip for a night or two (at a state park or somewhere with other people nearby-ish).

    1. @LDMN – absolutely! Pitching a tent + overnight camping is a great example. It does seem a little intimidating but on the other hand many people have successfully managed to go camping and they are not all geniuses. Most likely it will be fine.

  2. Yay for ParkWhiz. I’m so happy I could play a small part in this renaissance! Also for future reference, if you’re going to Midtown, parking in the Port Authority Bus Terminal often helps avoid too much dicey city driving – going into the city, you drive right out of the Lincoln Tunnel and right into the garage; leaving the city, you drive right out of the garage and directly into the Lincoln Tunnel. This can save a lot of time/stop-and-go at rush hour! Plus it’s self-park…

    1. @Elisa- ooh, that is very good to know. Driving right into the Lincoln Tunnel sounds fantastic.

  3. Such a good article! I limit myself so much by thinking “I can’t do that.” This is a great reminder that if they can do it, I can probably do it.

  4. I LOVE THIS. I am sooooooo guilty of this, all the time. I am so glad you wrote about this, because seriously, I think about this topic so often. I have this trait (character flaw?) of always assuming everyone else knows things, and somehow, I do not. For example… let’s say I need/want to replace some trees or shrubs in my yard. My mind immediately goes to, “Well, I don’t know anything about trees.” Yet other acquaintances or neighbors all seem to manage to plant trees, so they must have just emerged from the womb knowing the difference between the tree species and knowing the correct digging depth and when to plant the tree and best way to care for it, etc. etc. Same with financial stuff, parenting, home repairs, and yes, even things like driving complicated routes or into a big city/ travel related things sometimes!

  5. I love this! I have ADHD which means that I think of so many possibilities I build things way up in my mind when actually they are simple. So often just tackling them and knowing that other people have done it too makes it so much more manageable.

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