Fear Driven: My Long Awaited Counquering of Driving

Photo credit: tchola

Last week was truly a monumental one for me. At last, I assembled my bits of courage collected over the last four years and got my driver’s license. Yes, it took me half way through college before achieving this “rite of passage” and, to be frank, I am still in denial.

As a twenty-year-old student active in her community, I somehow bore the humiliation of being a “ride mooch” who couldn’t drive anywhere, but always had to be somewhere. In four years, I have become a master ride-bummer… not necessarily a good thing.

So why did I wait so long?

Pure fear.

When I was sixteen, I was really excited to drive, but also harbored some paranoia thanks to the morbidity of the news. After being told, “If so-and-so can do it, you can!” many a time, I pushed my fear aside and practiced until it was test time.

Regrettably, the only vehicle we had back then was a very large space-shuttle-like van. Now, I’m only 5 feet tall and barely pushing 100 pounds. Practicing in it was difficult; I could barely see over the dash! There was itty bitty me, high up off the ground in a monstrous and clunking beast, trudging down the main road taking up all available space in my lane. I had no leeway. The van stretched back for miles it seemed, and I was unaware of  where it ended and began. I felt like I needed a “caution: wide turn” signal.

The dreaded test time came. It was my first shot. I wore my most comfortable shoes and sported a “driving outfit” worn for comfort and flexibility. I hopped into the big van with my dad in the passenger’s seat, and we drove off for the examination station in the early hours of the morning.

This is where the seed of my fear was planted. Not too far from our house, I decided to go back. My nerves were getting to me, and I decided my shoes would hinder my driving. Overthinking things, I wanted to head home to change them.  Dad told me to pull the clunker into a driveway and turn around to head home, but as I was backing out I went too far and the enormous van crushed the mailbox across the street tearing it clear out of the ground.

There was a loud crash, we dipped into a small ditch, and the van’s rear bumper was stuck to the mangled pole. It wouldn’t budge.  Dad was at a boiling point, and fear and adrenaline took over. I handed over the wheel, and he cleverly maneuvered us away. I was stressed and nervous beyond belief.

‘Do you still want to take the test?” dad asks.

And in disbelief I respond, “Um, I don’t really think I should be on the road… do you?”

He drove us home, and I stormed into the house furious at myself. I don’t know if my dad ever contacted the owners of the mailbox, but that incident was enough to keep me off the road for four years. I was terrified, and the intense fear was punishment enough.

Just last week, I scheduled my first driver’s exam since. Thanks to my boyfriend’s car and a new vehicle purchase by my dad, I was able to practice in cars much more fitting to my size, which made ALL the difference. I got an adequate amount of practice in, scheduled my exam for the afternoon, and I was ready.

I drove to the exam station with my boyfriend, the nerves making their existence known within my stomach. I walked in, they processed me, and then it was show time. It was a humid and rainy day, but as soon as I walked to the car with the examiner, my emotions turned off and I  was on autopilot.

Where I live, we’re required to take a maneuverability test similar to parallel parking. I did this first with ease save for a few bumps of the markers. Then it was time for the road test. We rode into a neighborhood, and I followed his instructions exactly. He marked me off for a few mistakes, but once we rolled back into the exam station parking lot, it was silent.

“You passed!”

Four years of tension and guilt flowed out of me, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I did it.

My newfound independence has been a godsend. Now my passion for volunteering can blossom in ways that were deemed impossible in the past. I’m already dreaming of the near future where I can pick up my “Little” and be the “Big Sister” I’ve always wanted to be. I no longer have an excuse to have “lazy days” every weekend, and I like it.

So instead of taking this common ability to drive for granted, I’m going to take this priviledge of mine and share it with those who can benefit from it. Oh, and I won’t pass up the occasional shopping spree either.

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12 responses to “Fear Driven: My Long Awaited Counquering of Driving

  1. GOOD ON YOU. Seriously, WELL DONE! Being 22 (almost 23 – eek!) and still not having anything other than my learner’s license (with only eight or so hours ticked off), I totally relate to being a ‘ride mooch’ – I’m always the passenger and never the driver, so congratulations!

    • Thank you, Corrine! It was a huge step, and none of my friends are used to me actually driving! I still get a bit iffy in areas I don’t know very well, but somehow it all comes together.

      Good luck on getting yours!

      Brittany

  2. I didn’t get my license until I was 21, mostly because I either couldn’t afford a car or insurance. Fear is still a big factor for me and I avoid driving as much as I can, but the day I got my license was a beautiful day. :)

    Congratulations on getting your license and getting over the fear!

    • Thanks so much, Angie!! It was an amazing day. So much weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I thought I’d be a passenger/pedestrian forever!

      Brittany

  3. Nice One B!! – It’s great when you pass and 20’s not a bad age to be driving actually. There’s a lot of growing to be had between 16 and 20, especially with the young men who think they’re playing ‘Need for Speed Turbo Extreme Nut Nut Nitro 2!’
    I was 19 and on my second attempt when I passed my test. I’d decided to go on an intensive 2 week driving course, which cost a small fortune, only to be failed by an old aged, blue rinse, female examiner who clearly taken a disliking to my ‘Mad for It!’ T-Shirt lol. Luckily I passed a couple of months later after I’d splashed out much more wonga on lessons and another, more appropriate, T-shirt!
    Enjoy your new found freedom and good luck with all your volunteering work, you are a great person to consider others like you do at just 20! Keep it up mate!
    Respect and Peace!
    @dam.

    • That’s true! I see the need for speed it in many young boys. You’re right that it probably was good to wait a little. I’ve been observing for years, and now I can put all of those observations to use.

      I think the examiner’s mood makes all the difference! Like your experience, my friends all told me of a time they tested with a grouchy examiner and failed. I was so lucky to have a cheerful guy in the mid day.

      Thanks so much for the wonderful compliments, @dam!
      Brittany

  4. Congratulations, not only for gettinh your license but for overcoming your fears!!! I comend you for facing your fears head on and achieving such great results! Enjoy your new found freedom!

  5. Oh dear. lol
    I’m so paranoid to do mine again. I had the most awful driving test person.

    I was so nervous… and it’s just like standing in front of a room full of people to me…. I just couldn’t think. I get so terrified before it even starts, but I know I can drive well, and I love it… I just don’t think I’ll do the test again.

    Come with me? lol :) Congrats!!!!!

  6. Congratulations girl!
    I really think driving/the driving test is a very common fear. I wasn’t that scared of it at first, but I got into an accident when I was 16 (& a week after my parents had bought me a brand new car–oh, the irony!) and had my license suspended. I almost totaled the other person’s car and that was enough to terrify me for the next 5 years or so. I literally wouldn’t drive but a few blocks away from my home and I would plan routes where I wouldn’t have to turn left across more than 1 lane of traffic (which is how I got into my accident). It was all very stressful & just plain shitty. Eventually I was forced to drive more (bc I was away in college 2 1/2 hrs away from home and my boyf who I loved still loved at home). And when I started doing it more, I realized that I was stressing myself out all those years for no reason. Kinda like you w/ the driving test. If you need to do something, I think it’s always better to JUST DO IT. The more you think about it, the scarier it seems.

    Anyway–I’m very proud and know this is going to change your life in so many awesome ways. :)
    xoxo

  7. wow nice and keep trying driving :D

  8. I miss you on 1000 Awesome Things! :) – Neil

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