One of the very first things that is key to learning how become a successful adult is learning how to drive. Boy, what a journey that was.
I had left it quite late before I started learning – where as other 17 year olds badger their parents incessantly to get their provisional license sorted in time for their birthday so they can have their first proper driving lesson and aim to pass as soon as possible, I took my usual procrastinated approach.
17-year-old-me decided it would be silly to get my own car before uni – I wouldn’t be able to afford to drive it. No way in hell would my Mum ever buy me my own car, even a clapped out old banger, pay for insurance which would cost more than the actual car itself and give me money for fuel. She would have laughed in my face if I had even asked. So I thought I’d just learn at my own pace.
Oh 17-year-old-me, you idiot.
I finally passed my test in my last year of uni. I’d started having lessons at 17/18, but because I didn’t do my theory in time before I started uni, it meant I had to start all over again in the summer of second year. It all seemed so simple: pass the theory, then do the test in the summer and pass that as well. Then I could be insured on my step Dad’s car, like my brother, and actually get to become a normal 20 year old.
Alas, it was not to be. I did my test the November after the summer, confident I would pass. The moment that examiner sat next to me in the passenger seat my brain went “nope.” I had a major fault for driving with the handbrake up after doing the manuevre, and apparently I used the wrong lane on a roundabout though of course he made that up. I was heartbroken – I wouldn’t talk to anyone all day and went on an “I hate myself why am I so useless” binge. That examiner had made me feel like I was the stupidest person he had ever laid eyes on.
The second time was in January with a different examiner. That one I failed 5 minutes into the test when I pulled out at a junction in a one way system, and the examiner had seen a car pulling out of another junction a little further up. He panicked and braked, even though she was no where near me (I’m starting to sound a bit bitter, aren’t I?)
The third time was with the first examiner. This time I was determined to pass – no way could I afford to do this again. I drove confidently and was under the impression I had passed. So when he turned to me and said I’d failed because I’d driven on the wrong side of the road along a back road, I was gobsmacked. That one he really did make up. Honest.
I was all ready to give up at this point – all three experiences had been so humiliating and made me feel like I knew nothing. Maybe I should have adopted my positive thinking attitude much sooner. Though hell froze over and my Dad made a once in a blue moon phone call and offered to pay for my test in April.
Test number four. It was fairly safe to say that by this point I was fairly fed up. No way was I going back to Cardigan to do it – the place was apparently cursed – so I booked my test for Bangor while I was in uni, and found a local instructor to let me use his car.
This examiner was really nice and put me at ease straight away, even though I was convinced by divine intervention I was still doomed to fail. When he turned to me and told me I’d passed I burst out crying, much to his alarm. He told me “That’s the most upset I’ve seen someone for passing…” as I restrained from doing a victory dance.
I had finally done it! I was well on my way to becoming a fully fledged adult!
A little piece of wisdom I would like to impart after this stressful journey of mine is don’t listen to 17 year old me. Do the driving test as soon as you can – after all, I would only have needed a few lessons to brush up on my driving skills if I had done it at 17 and gotten a car after uni.
Procrastination is never the answer (unfortunately).