This is my second coming out. I’ve come to the realization that despite what others have told me; despite my own inclination to ignore this part of who I am; I have finally accepted and embraced something I’ve been lying to myself about for a long time.
I picked the wrong path. One that didn’t have enough cars. I’m stepping onto a new path today, even though I don’t know where it leads.
Since I was three years old I’ve been inexorably drawn to any and every thing to do with motor vehicles. My second birthday cake was shaped like a dump truck. I have burned through hundreds upon hundreds of Hot Wheels and still collect them as an adult. My adolescent video gaming diet consisted primarily of Need for Speed, Grand Theft Auto, GranTurismo, and Mario Kart. Please don’t ask me how many times I’ve watched Top Gear and Fast & Furious, start to finish. While my childhood friends were playing baseball and discovering the joys of Pokemon and girls (separately of course), I was memorizing HP and 0-60 figures in automotive encyclopedias and drawing my own supercar posters to put next to the Corvettes, Vipers and Murcielagos covering my bedroom walls and bookshelves. As an amateur potter I even dreamed of becoming a clay modeler for Pininfarina. As a middle schooler I got in the habit of reading my dad’s Motor Trend and Car & Driver magazines, and to this day I sift the magazine rack in every waiting room I encounter hoping to find the latest issue.
So how is it that despite all those signs, I ended up diverging entirely from the idea of an automotive career? Well, it just seemed daunting. I didn’t think it was meant for me because my dad didn’t work on cars. I was afraid that if I didn’t get the “early start” that so many gearhead kids are afforded by their gearhead dads, that it would just be pointless trying to compete. The first seven years of my driving life were spent in a very exhilarating beige Ford Taurus with the hallmark collapsed rear suspension. I wouldn’t drive a manual vehicle until 22. It all seemed like a pipe dream, so I let it wither.
It stuck for awhile. I decided to study political science in college and I flirted with the idea of Peace Corps and Foreign Service before eventually settling on ESL teaching after I graduated. I’ve been with my current employer for several years now, and I’m getting close to finishing my MBA.
Yet despite that steady march towards what would appear to be a pretty decent life, it still doesn’t feel right. Every time, no matter what, I keep coming back to cars. Racing, tuning culture, restomods, industry news, dozens and dozens of groups on Facebook for cars I don’t own, online forums, trying to become an armchair mechanic with Engineering Explained and Donut videos. When I can’t fall asleep at night, I’m counting cylinders, not sheep.
It took me five months of obsessing, combing through eBay, Craigslist, and Autotrader for my first true enthusiast purchase before I landed on…well of course you knew it would be a Miata.
I think it was that symbolic first car purchase that made me realize I can’t keep lying to myself. I need this. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, how much money it’s going to cost, where I’ll end up, who will disapprove, or if I’ll have anything to show for it at the end.
But I do know one thing, and that’s that I’m living my truth starting now. I will have to fight hard to break into this industry, and that’s okay. Because when I finally get to where I want to be, I will look back and remember that the first concrete step I took toward this commitment was writing something about it and putting it online for others to see. And if I inspire just one person to live their truth too, then that’s a victory in my book.
So, yeah, I’m coming out again. I am utterly, hopelessly obsessed with cars and driving the hell out of them. And I will stop at nothing to make it my livelihood too.