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by Lainey Severson
My foot slams on the brake as my hand pops the car out of gear. I look over to the display clock. Once again, the pale green lights flash the same time to me. Fourty-nine seconds followed by some milliseconds I don’t care about. I shake my head, frustration coursing through me. The radio crackles to life.
“And there goes Elaine Margaret Ann Severson III, taking out half the course of cones.”
I look at the radio, slightly dumbfounded. A chuckle escapes my lips and I shake my head, put the car in first, and drive back to my grid position. It feels nice to laugh and genuinely mean it.
I know I’m not the only one who gets frustrated by their hobbies. Sometimes, the things we love to do infuriate us more than we want to admit. That’s where I have been the past few events. I’m in a car that is heavily penalized, even though it’s stock. I have cheap tires due to a budget, so my grip is drastically reduced. I’m trying to learn and improve, but I keep having my attention pulled in different directions. I love sharing this sport with other people, especially novice drivers, but they always beat my times by a solid second or more in my own car. As much as I look forward to an event, I know I’ll leave the weekend slightly discouraged, trying to figure out what I can improve on, and hope for better next time.
Even when you aren’t “failing,” the feeling of not meeting your own expectations begins to wear you down. I personally become a more reserved, which comes across as anger, hostility, or being a sore sport to people who don’t know me. Then a different cycle starts, where you start pretending things are normal and OK, but clearly there’s something wrong. The worst part, though, is knowing you need to get yourself out of these loops, but you can’t figure out how.
That’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with the right people. If your partner-in-crime, whoever they may be, brings you done, you need to find someone knew. If the issue is your attitude, you need to figure out what’s getting you down and focus on changing it. If all else fails and you’re still miserable, it’s perfectly acceptable to take some time off and reevaluate the situation, regardless of whether or not everyone else agrees.
I hit a similar place of frustration this past winter when it came to skiing. Although it was something I’ve done with my family since I was three, one nasty breakup with my ski partner turned boyfriend of three years really took the love away. It took a visit from my dad to reset the season, even though that was the last weekend I really got to go.
After taking some time in between races (and nearly breaking my finger in a work accident involving my office door), I feel ready to get back behind the wheel. I made sure to take some time and figure out what was bothering me and if it was fixable. Luckily, it is. For starters, I have better tires on the car, which should help me feel faster. I’ll make sure to save money a bit further in advance for next season to avoid crappy, cheap tires again.
Next, I’m trying to focus on the things I did well on course instead of what I did poorly. I may have blown a corner, but did I brake sooner and set something up better? Did I power through the finish instead of letting off the gas before the lights? DID I LOOK AHEAD?? Sure, looking at the areas to improve are important, but beating yourself up doesn’t help. Third, I’m focusing on me. I’m happy to help people and I want everyone to have fun. I’ll continue to do that. But the stressful, negative things associated with some individuals in my region need to go. And lastly, I’m trying to be goofier. Hence the crazy names on the announcements. The cone in the photo above? I dragged it halfway around the course. My friends told me it was mine, so I named it Albert and brought it home as a joke. Well, joke’s on me because Albert sits on top of my race wheels in the carport, staring at me.For the record, my name is not Elaine Ann Margaret Severson III. And something tells me it’ll be different at the next event. I’ll let you know what my new name is.