I hate driving. Ever since my first lesson, which was a complete disaster, I had been scared shitless of getting into the driver’s seat of a car.
The worst part of it was probably that everyone kept telling me that it’d get better, that driving lessons would eventually be a lot of fun and that I should stop worrying. Needless to say, this only made me worry more.
I wish I could tell you they were all right and it did get better, but to be honest, it didn’t really. My driving instructor was great and probably the most patient person I’ve ever met (even though he did say that my driving stresses him out so much that it makes his hair falls out – he’s bald!), which I’m very thankful for. But even after weeks and weeks of practice, I still got the collywobbles every time I had to sit down behind the steering wheel.
One day, my driving instructor told me he’d signed me up for the practical test: my first reaction was to ask him whether he was having a laugh, but I realised he was serious, I instantly panicked. During that previous lesson I had overseen a stop sign, accidentally driven past a red light and nearly hit a lamppost when turning, so how on earth was I supposed to go 45 minutes without making any mistakes?
Well, I didn’t. The first time, I drove in the wrong lane which I have no idea why I did, and when I tried for the second time a few weeks later, I legitimately couldn’t find the street I was supposed to drive in and got so confused that I nearly crashed into another car.
Naturally, I was dreading my third attempt more than ever. The night before, I woke up every hour and had four panic attacks in one night, so you can imagine how I felt when it was time to get up and leave for the test centre. My mum tried her best to calm me down on the way there, but even listening to Fleetwood Mac on full volume didn’t stop me from shaking and crying my heart out.
When I finally sat in the car and was only minutes away from starting my test, I was nothing but a ball of anxiety. Luckily, my examiner was very lovely and when he introduced himself as “Mr Maximini” (It wasn’t even a nickname, I checked his name tag!), I even had to chuckle a bit despite feeling the shittiest I had since a very long time.
From that point on, I don’t remember that much cause my brain seems to have deleted most of my memories (that happens sometimes when you’re really anxious), but when I drove back through the gateway of the test centre and the examiner still hadn’t told me I’d failed, I couldn’t quite believe it. He asked me a few more questions and finally congratulated me on passing – I was over the moon. This simple sentence took such a load off my mind that I started crying again, but this time out of relief instead of fear.
The reason I’m telling you about this is that I kinda wished someone had understood my anxieties about driving when I was in that position. I have amazing friends and family and everyone was trying their best to support me, but it was so tough to constantly hear people going on about how much they loved driving and were looking forward to every single lesson when I kind of wanted to run away and never come back whenever someone just mentioned the word “car”.
If you can relate to this in any way, I just wanna tell you that it’s gonna be fine. It won’t be easy, certainly not, and if you’re struggling with anxiety, too, it might even be one of the hardest things you ever have to do and you might take ten times as long to get your license than all of your friends, but you’re still gonna be all right.
Also, try to always tell yourself that it’s perfectly fine if you are scared of something everyone else seems to enjoy, be it driving or anything else. I know it’s easy to blame yourself for being different, but the thing about humans is that we often forget about all the amazing and individual talents we have just because we can’t stop thinking of that one thing we are having problems with.
Whatever it is, all you can do is try your best and if that’s still not enough, that’s of course devastating, but the inability to do something doesn’t make you less of a good person. You and your feelings are valid and it’s okay if you can’t be strong sometimes. I know it’s tough when you feel like people don’t get you and perhaps there are times when you feel alone and misunderstood, but I just want you to know that I’m very proud of you for everything you’ve accomplished, no matter whether it was passing your driving test, writing a good exam, cooking a nice dinner or simply getting out of bed every morning. And you should be proud, too.