As I’m writing this, yesterday marks my sixth month anniversary of being a fully qualified driver. I can’t say that its gone without a hitch, there has been a few scrapes here and there but nothing that has put me out the game. In saying that, today also marks the day that I had to check my car- a lovely, copper, Gumtree find- into the garage, more than likely for a very expensive fix after it decided to start making some crazy noises yesterday halfway to my destination. Anyway, I have decided to take this time to talk about the whole driving experience as a whole, because its not really a subject I see a lot of people talking about, but I think it has some pretty important aspects. So, get your popcorn ready, it’s story time.
There is a lot of hype put on learning to drive. It’s expensive and takes up a lot of your personal time (if you’re like me and took a while to pick it all up). I turned seventeen in March of 2015 and wasn’t entirely eager to start learning straight away, and I wasn’t keen on being the first of my friends to go through it all as I was going in completely blind to everything, with no idea what a clutch was. However, my mums friend had just qualified as a driving instructor and I was essentially tag teamed into starting- not that I’m complaining, had they not I may still be sitting here waiting on my dad to come home and give me a lift. I was booked in for my first lesson towards the end of May.
I hated it. So much so, that after my first couple of lessons I took a massive break over the summer. I hated the responsibility, I hated the pressure, and I hated having the safety of basically every other driver fall into my hands. But once again, I got a kick up the butt and got myself together. The next step was my theory test, which after months and months of putting it off, eventually got booked for early December. I passed, barely on the hazard perception section, but it was enough to mean that it was now time for the important part- the practical test.
I was eager to pass before my eighteenth birthday and so, when a date became available early March, I took it. Fast forward to the eight of March 2016 and I’m a fully qualified driver, with her own car and personal registration plate. And that’s when the hype died down. I struggled, going from being constantly supervised and having to take people places, navigate the motorway, suss out all the speed limits, all while trying not to kill anyone. However, in the beginning, the novelty of it all kept me going.
I had a load of expectations when learning to drive. I envisioned road trips, late night drives and essentially just the freedom of having a license and being able to go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Instead, for the most part, all I received was bucket loads of anxiety. I hate unfamiliar roads, I hate roundabouts, I hate the motorway, and once again, the responsibility of everything that comes along with that rectangular piece of plastic ID.
I only ever feel confident in myself when I’m driving with no passengers, on roads I know, and singing a song I really like. I guess that in itself is a type of freedom I never had before, but it’s not to the extent I was expecting. I know confidence comes with experience, but I thought six months down the line I would be better than this.