Learning to drive
When I was 17, lots of people my age were learning to drive. I would see girls driving their friends places for lunch, dropping books out to their cars on break times, and taking themselves off for fun mini road trips at weekends.
For my 21 st birthday, part of my gift was driving lessons. I was in a lucky position where my family were willing to pay for my lessons, where I had access to a family car, and I knew that this was a privilege. Despite knowing this, holding that lesson voucher in my hands was terrifying. I have anxiety, and just thinking about getting behind the wheel of the car felt impossible.
Secretly hoping I would fail
Although no part of me wanted to, I booked and began to study for my theory test. Part of me was secretly hoping I would fail, so I could prove that I would be a terrible driver and that me sitting behind the wheel of a car was an awful idea. Instead, I passed with flying colours.
That meant there was nothing left but for me to book my lessons. When I met my new instructor, the first thing I told him was that I would never be able to drive. He laughed, and said he had been teaching for ten years and he had met only one single person who really couldn’t drive. All the rest had done really well, and he told me he was sure that I would be one of the ones who could do it.
Feeling the fear lift
That first day of lessons was strange; I had spent all my time in the passenger seat and sitting behind the wheel for the first time was so scary. We started with me simply getting the car to move and stop, and once I could do that, I was instructed to drive around the housing estate he had driven us to. I was doing it, even though my hands were sweaty and I was sure I was going to crash. It also started to rain, and I think I pressed every single lever and button I could reach to try get the wipers on. After a few successful turns, and getting the car to stop and go, I felt the fear lift away. I was doing it!
I practiced as much as I could outside of the lessons, offering to drive to the shops, or if there was a trip involving a motorway, I would drive as far as I could and then swap with my fully licensed driver. On my eighth lesson my driving instructor reminded me of the first lesson, where I had sworn that I was unteachable, and pointed out that I was now successfully doing three-point turns, starting and stopping on a hill and able to comfortably switch between gears, as well as manage traffic. My fears had completely melted away, and every single time I sat in the driver’s seat I got a little bit better.
Leaning I am capable
I haven’t taken my test as of yet, but am planning on booking in for that soon. It will be a while before I am the most confident driver, but I definitely no longer feel fear or apprehension at the thought of getting behind the wheel. The hardest part of learning to drive was definitely teaching myself that I was capable of it.