I had my first driving lesson today. This was my first time operating a car- ever – and it was fairly terrifying, although not as bad as I was expecting.
I admit, I have a lot of anxiety about driving. Accidents can happen so easily, and effect so many people besides the driver. I get distracted easily and have a lot of anxiety, which makes me feel vulnerable in such a position of responsibility over other peoples lives. I also don’t like the car dependency in this country. People seem to drive even for the smallest distances. Although you cannot always blame them. It’s a small country and so you’d think that trains, buses and walking would be adequate in a lot of situations- but unfortunately trains are expensive and train stations not always close to where you need to be, buses come whenever the hell they like, if they come at all, and the cost also adds up. Walking is fine, except when you find yourself lugging heavy shopping from a bus stop 20 minutes from your house, or there is snow or ice, as only roads get de-iced. Sometimes you just feel tired and don’t want to walk an hour through the rain (because this is the UK, and it is often terrible weather) to get your groceries. Which is just some of the annoying scenarios which make a person really wished they could have just driven from point A to point B. I like to walk and don’t mind public transport but I’ve started to seriously want the flexibility of having to drive, especially as I approach graduation and entering the work force- where offices can and are often outside the city or in remote areas. I am also trying to conquer my anxiety and what better way to do that than to force myself to do something I really don’t want to do. I’m already coping with working, so why not? I have been putting off getting my license for too long, for too stupid reasons, mostly sheer stubborness, to be honest. Yes, I can manage with public transport and walking, but my life would be easier and I’d have more flexibility with a driving license.
My dad was pleased to hear that I wanted to drive, after years of trying to persuade me and only meeting stubborn refusal, so pleased in fact that he promised to buy me a car after I’d passed, and pay for all my lessons. I had some money tucked away in order to help with the costs of lessons and test fees, but I can hardly complain if my father doesn’t want me to use it. I feel grateful to him, as apart from my long term savings I am really quite broke. I tried googling instructors but the results were too much, so I went to the yellow pages. Funny how that thing actually comes in useful sometimes. I talked with my dad and narrowed my options to three schools. I phoned up one driving school but they were booked up, couldn’t get hold of another so ended up with my third choice. Which as these things go, turned out to be the right choice.
My driving lesson today turned out just fine. My instructor is lovely and good at handling my nervousness. She thankfully did not start me outside my house- but drove to a quiet area where we could get started. We didn’t get through much- just the very basics, but even then there was a lot to take in. First understanding what everything in the car actually does and setting up the car – mirrors, positioning the seat, knowing where to find the blind spots. Then, actually driving. I had to get used to the pedals, and steering, and tried parking for the first time, and was utterly terrible at it. I felt a bit dazed, but at least I never had time to let my anxiety get to me – I was concentrating too hard. It was very strange and very unfamiliar and a lot to take in all at once. But it wasn’t as scary as I anticipated it would be to sit behind the wheel.
I have my theory test soon, and I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to take the practical test- I have a feeling this is going to take me a long time. But I’m feeling a bit more optimistic about it. Still very anxious, but I look forward to having my licence, and I think I’ll manage, perhaps even find some enjoyment in driving, though that’s probably being too optimistic.
*NB: In the UK in order to get a drivers license you have to take a theory test covering the Highway code/road regulations and hazard perception, before you can take a practical test in an actual car.