When I sat my driving theory test more years ago than I care to remember, I left the test centre with a massive smile on my face. I’d apparently got 100% on my theory questions and an exceptionally high score on my hazard perception.
“Great!” I thought. “Just the practical to sort and I’ll be all sorted!”
Well, except for the fact that I become a nervous wreck behind the wheel! My driving history has been very much on and off through the years.
While still at home in Glasgow, my parents bought me a block of driving lessons. I didn’t keep the lessons going, for some reason. Fast forward to me living in Dundee a few years down the line. I decided that it would be a good idea to get back behind the wheel again.
A lot of people are natural drivers. I am not one of them! The long break from driving had not helped matters.
I didn’t feel ready to sit my first driving test when the time came but my driving instructor assured me I would be fine. I wasn’t! My clutch leg shook uncontrollably as I tried, badly, to reverse-park into a space in the test centre car park.
Between that and a woeful amount of additional faults, there was no way I was going to pass my test. I would have failed myself, to be completely honest.
Lack of Confidence
Nevertheless, my driving instructor urged me to put in for another test and keep practising.
I don’t think I ever saw him again! After putting in for that second test, I was allocated a new instructor as my original one had failed a test that driving instructors need to pass to be eligible to teach.
With a matter of a few short weeks between that point and my next test, it was down to Ian, my new instructor, to help me change my mindset about driving and also help me get used to a new car. It wasn’t going to be easy.
Ian was a brilliant driving instructor, and even though it would take me another four attempts to pass (yes, four!) Ian was the teacher I had been needing all along.
I had developed a severe lack of confidence that was going to be difficult to overcome. I still haven’t overcome it, in fact.
My difficulty was that I was living in Dundee, ninety-odd miles away from my parents, who had the only car I was insured on.
Lack of practice plus a lot of nerves is not a great combination for a new driver.
It was easier to not drive. So I didn’t. In hindsight, I should have just forced myself to go out on my own. I should have bought myself a wee car and just kept going with it.
But you know what they say, hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Back behind the wheel
In reality, I have driven solo for less than five minutes, since I passed, in 2006!
Thanks to years of not driving, I have developed a real phobia – well beyond mild nerves.
In 2019, I found out I was going to become a mum. Driving would open up a whole world of possibilities to me and my daughter, Isla, so I made the decision to get back behind the wheel.
No-one can say I haven’t given it my best shot. I booked refresher lessons with another driving instructor – my fourth if anyone is keeping count! I also had a hypnotherapy session and a round of sessions with a psychologist.
The most challenging thing I have ever done
Finally, I have got to the stage where I drive almost every day. I drive back from the nursery in the mornings after we have dropped Isla off and I drive back there in the evenings. I’m not yet ready to drive with Isla in the car, so my husband is doing the other parts of the journeys.
It has quite honestly been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I’m also embarrassed that I find so difficult something that other people seem to do very easily. But I’m sticking it out.
I say this even though I came into the house this morning with a knot in my stomach and tears in my eyes. My husband said that drive was “brilliant from start to finish” and that he’s impressed with me and very proud. Maybe someday soon I will be proud of myself!
I will get there with my driving. Eventually. What better motivation to do it than Isla?
And when she reaches the age of seventeen, I will be actively encouraging her to learn to drive and keep up the practice. I will not let history repeat itself.
Though having said that, it might be best that her dad takes her out for practice…