A couple of months ago, I impulsively bought a car with a manual transmission…even though I’ve only ever driven automatics. I couldn’t help it: The car was a super-cute convertible. It was bright yellow–my favorite car color. And, most importantly, it’s so low to the ground, it makes me look like a towering Amazon warrior at 5’1″ when I stand next to it.
So, I figured, “Hey, if teenage boys can drive a stick shift, how hard could it be to learn, right?”
Turns out, kinda hard.
While trying to implement the crazy idea of using all four limbs independently to work three pedals, steer the car and shift gears was a tad overwhelming, turns out, my biggest hurdle was that I tried to learn how to drive a stick shift during my premenstrual week. I failed. Abysmally. (No lie–at one point, I actually got out of the car and walked away. Here’s a reminder about just how bad I was.)
The problem was that with estrogen plunging like a rock in my premenstrual week, I had no patience with myself, my already fairly lousy physical coordination was all off, I was super-sensitive to every wince and teeth-gritting my husband did whenever I ground the gears and I went into emotional crisis mode every time I stalled. Or bucked. Or bucked then stalled. It was ugly.
I was so bummed by the experience that it took me until 7 days ago to climb back in the car and start learning again.
However, this time I made one key change: I purposely timed my renewed driving lessons to coincide with start of Week 1 of my cycle–when I got my period. That’s because I knew that’s when estrogen would start to rise and–since I know my estrogen-fueled benefits kick in really fast–give me the confidence, dexterity, optimism and patience I needed to finally learn this stupid form of driving that I’m convinced Cirque du Soleil performers would find tricky.
And what a difference waiting till Week 1 started made.
Though I started out again with stalls and bucks, they were fewer and further between. And, I wasn’t beating myself up even remotely as much about them this time. And, when I made a bad move, I didn’t give up and walk away. I stayed put and tried to figure out what I did wrong and how to adjust it to get it right. And even if I didn’t have a day of good driving, I committed to trying again the following day.
And now 7 days later, I think I can now technically call myself a stick shift driver since I graduated from parking lots and quiet side streets to driving me and Douglas all the way to the beach and back.
While I’m super-psyched to be able to finally drive my car–no exaggeration, I actually shed tears of joy–I’m a little disappointed in myself: Two months ago, I knew that trying to learn something complicated that required more coordination than I’m used to and was completely foreign to me would be far more difficult to learn if I started it during my premenstrual Week 4. But, I was impatient and didn’t want to wait till my Week 1 rolled around to start learning. So, I jumped the gun.
Had I waited just a few days for the right time in my cycle, I would have probably been tooling around for months already with the wind in my hair and a gazillion yellow convertible selfies on my Instagram account.
So, I share all this with you not just to warn you that there’s a new driver with a bright yellow 6-speed waiting to cut you off in traffic somewhere in Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast. But, to also recommend that when you want to learn something new that requires a lot of mental and/or physical prowess–like the drums or dental surgery or a manual stick shift car–if you can, time it to coincide with the first half of your cycle.
It’s not that it’s impossible to learn something new as estrogen plunges in your premenstrual week. It’s just that rising estrogen in your Week 1 and Week 2 can make it soooo much easier.
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