387: I Found My Insecurities Written on the Back of Trucks in Argentina
At both my stops in Argentina on my way to Antarctica, I noticed these big white stickers on the back of vehicles in surrounding traffic. The numbers varied from one vehicle to the next, ranging from 80 to 110. After burning through guesses, I asked my taxi driver what they meant.
Turns out, they’re the maximum speed limit in kilometers/hour for that specific vehicle (typically used for commercial purposes). Even if the posted highway speed limit is higher than what’s shown on the sticker, that’s as fast as the driver can legally drive.
My first thought was that I’m thankful we don’t have these in the States—especially not on my MINI. That would be brutal! The next thing that popped into my head was a bit more metaphorical: how many of us move around in life with virtual stickers announcing our limitations? And then: what are my stickers?
Candidly, my top-left window is crowded with more than one limit. One sticker says UGLY. Another says ANNOYING. The cascade continues with UNCOORDINATED and IMMATURE and even HYPOCRITE. Drivers behind me in traffic can clearly tell that the cool kids don’t want to be my friends, that I’m not enough.
So, I drive my inadequate self—as fast as I’m allowed—to parking spots that might distract from my stickers: my church’s parking lot, lighthouses along the coast of Norway, and even Antarctica. I parallel park behind Facebook and its next buttons. I hope you and everybody else sees the other (unobstructed) windows of my truck and that you notice my commercial brand on the door instead. I hope I’m the only one who sees my stickers, but deep down I feel that everyone stares at them—and that the stickers comprise everyone’s first impression.
As I’m writing this, I know that assumption is preposterous; but I don’t live like it’s preposterous. Maybe you can relate?
In the States, lots of people have white ovals with black characters adhered to the back of their vehicles. I grew up on Kent Island (in the Chesapeake Bay), where the locals sport stickers with KI. I’ve raced my car at Virginia International Raceway, where cars have VIR inside the black border. Our local rail yard restaurant, Depot Grille, now has hundreds of DPO ovals parked around town. I see an OBX window sticker just about any time I leave my subdivision.
Instead of limitations, drivers are telling bystanders what excites and motivates them or a fantastic place they enjoy or something with which they want to be associated. They want to be known for what they love. Not everybody likes the beach or pit row or trains interrupting their dinner conversations. That’s okay with them, because they’re hoping to find their people. They’re looking for cars going in the same direction, life at their speed.
After I get home from this Antarctica expedition, I plan to peel some stickers off the work truck of my life. I want to swap out some Argentinian circles for American ovals.
I need new stickers with words that speak life into my soul, which will then pour into others. How ‘bout you? I know what my stickers need to say: words like WRITER and AUTHENTIC, GENEROUS and SUPPORTIVE. What words do you need to remind yourself—to change old filters of self-evaluation into empowering support? Let me know in the comments below.