91 Civic, courtesy of coches.com
Do you know how to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission? I will assume that you do. Do you remember learning? I learned to drive stick on a ’91 Honda Civic Hatchback that belonged to my sister. She tried to teach me. It was not pretty. Once I got my license, I’d take her car across town, by myself, just to practice. I would avoid all stop lights, all stop signs at an incline, and as much “heavy traffic” (in Penn Yan…) as I possibly could.
Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall in Days of Thunder (1990) via beyondhollywood.com
Beyond the “this is the clutch, this is pedal” instruction, I taught myself how to do it (and with a little help from Robert Duvall and Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder ).
“Now, Cole, when you shift the gear, and that little tach needle goes into the red and reads 9,000 RPM, that’s bad.” – Harry to Cole in Days of Thunder
It wasn’t until several years later that I realized that a ’91 Civic is just plain hard to drive, let alone learn on. The transmissions in those suckers are like some sort of Japanese torture device. Nice. I had taught myself how to drive stick on the hardest car EVER. Thanks, universe.
When I started my career as a web designer in 2007, I did so in a manner completely opposite of the typical college graduate. Near the end of my college education, I said, “I’m going to work for myself. People need a web person, I’ll be their web person” (of course it wasn’t quite that simple of a decision, but that’s the gist of it). Instead of looking for employment at some corporate-ish web company in a major metropolis, I happily donned the jeans-and-t-shirt uniform of the freelance work force, did up some business cards, and proceeded to push out some pretty horrific (some were okay) web creations as “Meredith Marsh Design”.
Soon I felt that using my actual name as my company name was possibly conceited or self-centered, so I switched things up and called my business “FLX Creative” (that’s FLX pronounced “eff el ex”). Thankfully I got better at web design, and learned to like growing client relationships and connecting with people, whether they were in the market for a web person or not.
I felt like I was grooving in third gear. You know, the gear that you downshift to when making tight turns but don’t really want to slow down? The gear you downshift to when you’re going up a giant hill? The gear you downshift to when you want the engine to work really hard but not gain a whole lot of speed? I was doing better than second or first gear, but I was really only going about 25-30 mph. Enough to get somewhere but not really “going somewhere“, ya know what I’m saying?
It’s hard to know where somewhere is. I have enjoyed nearly everything about self-employment and working from my home. Flexible schedule. Work in my PJs. Afternoon naps (honestly, I did that once when I was ill). Free-flowing coffee. Just plain good old fashioned freedom. “My name is Meredith, and I’m an American. I’m addicted to freedom” (it’s becoming quite a crime these days).
I would often randomly wonder, “am I going to do this forever”? In third gear? In my pajamas? I was never able to answer that question, and instead, reminded myself to be open to opportunities and opportunities will lead me somewhere.
This concludes Shifting Gears, Part 1. Stay tuned by receiving my blog posts by email or rss.