When anyone asked me why I didn’t know how to drive I said I was waiting for the self-driving cars. A self mechanism I had developed to avoid driving. I never completely understood at that time why I was avoiding driving. As a kid at one point, my dream had been being a race car driver when after playing video games and go-carting I saw that I was bad at driving I killed that dream for myself and decided I wasn’t going to drive. If I wasn’t racing car material what was the point of driving?
From a video game as a kid not being able to control the steering wheel I proclaimed I was not good at something. How strong my belief in ‘you were born with things’ was. Practice, effort, and improvement didn’t cross my mind about most things. It didn’t even occur to me that I had never been taught how to use a steering wheel how would I have that knowledge. So let’s get the story of me learning how to drive and talking about how I failed my driving test FOUR TIMES!
My struggle with driving
Growing up I saw my family members struggle with driving. They also didn’t get a hang of driving on the first attempt. I again thought to myself what’s the point of driving I’ll just be a bad driver and struggle. Again it didn’t even occur to me I could practice and become a better driver. When other people’s driving improved I didn’t stop to think oh practice does matter.
Years passed and I was 27. Living in the suburbs with a bad bus mechanism going to work that was 2 hours away I still let the fear of driving take my life over I still avoided driving. Taking Ubers paying the price asking people for favours. I was willing to do anything to avoid driving.
My fear of being a bad driver at one point turned into fear of being on the road. I had blocked completely how the road worked. People stare out of the window even when they don’t know how to drive notice lanes, traffic lights, and stop signs my brain had blocked all that out. I didn’t pay attention to any of that.
Then one fine day I realized enough was enough. I had no choice but to learn how to drive. This came with a lot of peer pressure as well. So I took my first lesson. I soon realized that you barely had to move the steering wheel while driving that your eyes direct your hand. Soon 10 lessons had passed and after 10 hours of driving, I was apparently ready for the road.
For 27 years I had been avoiding the roads not noticing how any signs worked or paying attention to what side of the road cars were on and now I was expected to give the driving test.
I failed my driving test – part 1
I remember my first drive test clearly. After practicing 2 hours before the test it was test time. The start was bad I didn’t know when coming out of the parking lot I should look both ways something that was common sense to someone else was something my brain had mentally shut down on for 27 years. Then after leaving the parking lot somewhere on a left turn my car moved towards the right and the examiner got scared and took the steering wheel away from me I knew I had an automatic fail.
The rest of the ride was fine but that was a big mistake. I deserved to fail that day and I knew I wasn’t ready. Honestly, I was a bit scared of being on the road and if I had passed that day I might have gone on the road on my own and been scared. Failure didn’t hit so hard that day.
I failed my driving test – part 2
1 month later it was time for round 2. My driving instructor that day told me he hoped for my sake reverse parking is something I’m not tested on (not something you want to hear the day before your test). So, that day I practiced parking again and again. Test day everything was going perfect and I was in the final stretch of the parking lot and there it all came crashing down.
I reverse parked it wasn’t perfect but it was passable and then I had to front park (the easy parking they call it) and I went on the wrong side of the road. The instructor told me I am on the wrong side of the road (not something you want to hear on a test). Immediately, my body shut down I no longer knew what I was doing I just parked diagonal and stopped the car. I asked the examiner if before that move I had passed and she said yes I had. 1 minute away from passing and I had failed. I didn’t cry that day I was happy I had almost passed. I was learning failure is okay and it was interesting.
Then the pandemic hit and I could no longer get another test. I took the 18 months and didn’t drive at all. Now when test centers opened I had to start all over. Something came back from muscle memory after 2 lessons but it was pretty hard getting back in rhythm.
I failed my driving test – part 3
I was back at it giving the test. The first test I gave I had someone who probably had my best interests at heart but also had a bad way of showing it. He was trying to make me pass but for someone like me, it was hell. First, he told me my seat was too in front in a laughing smirky way. He said I didn’t need to change it if I didn’t want to but he wasn’t sure I’d be able to see my blind spot. Then we began the test there was a huge car beside me covering my view. I started and a man came to sit in the car. My examiner screamed at that man and later told me off for starting to move the car without seeing. The test started badly to say the least.
My nerves were at an all-time high. Throughout the test, the examiner kept telling me things it felt more like a lesson than an exam. You are going to slow speed up. Did you even look at that mirror? What mirror did you look at? Did you mean to stop? Why did you do that? Question after question remark after remark. I can’t believe you did that. Omg did you just do that? For someone overstressed like me, this test went downhill pretty fast. I missed an all-way stop and didn’t come to a full stop never had that happened to me before.
When stress took over I just wanted him out of the car it didn’t matter if I failed or passed that’s all I wanted. The faster the better. As soon as the examiner stepped out I began to cry. I couldn’t even call my parents and tell them to come to the car without breaking into tears.
It wasn’t that I was crying because I failed it was partially that. It was because I couldn’t stand up to him. He was being rude and stressing me out and I couldn’t say a word. When I can’t speak up for myself and keep the emotions to myself it’s hard not to cry. I thought I deserved to pass and the circumstances he put me in led to me failing. 2 hours later the tears wouldn’t stop. I was being told to not cry it wasn’t worth it. But it was worth it to me and there was nothing wrong with me crying and letting it out. It wasn’t going to last forever my tears and yeah it was a small thing failing at a driving test but at that moment in order to deal and let those feelings out I had to cry.
Now I think back he might have been good for me taught me things I wouldn’t have known. Asked me questions that benefitted me but at the moment I couldn’t stand it. It was a lesson I might have failed but he did teach me things that I’ll remember on the road. Not sure if he should be an examiner but that failure helped me become a better driver so in a weird way I am thankful to him.
14 days later and 3 lessons and everyday practice I was back at the examination test. I had driven in the dark and rain the day prior in my mind I was definitely ready.
I failed my driving test – part 4
On examination day I gave myself a pep talk to pray and be patient. I started the car waited patiently to move did my parallel parking, my side parking and it was time to go to the traffic lights. It was a left turn on the green light where something happened to me. I suddenly forgot how to do a left turn something I do every day. What was happening? The guy I put my car in park as I was inching too forward he was scared for his life. Understandable! From my past 3 experiences, I knew this was an automatic fail.
The rest of the test was a blur I can barely recall what happened on the green light. Then I made a lane change without properly looking at the blind spot there was a car behind. BIG MISTAKE! My mind had gotten shut I was at an all-time stress high. Then came the red light by this time I didn’t even want to drive I stopped at the right light right turn and didn’t inch forward. Soon after the test was over and for the FOURTH TIME I knew I had failed. Now I know I am a good enough driver to be on the road when I am not stressed. When I am stressed I don’t deserve to be on that road. That was a hurdle I had to cross.
Need to figure out a way to get over that mental block and become the driver I am when I’m not stressed. My driving instructor didn’t think I needed more lessons and I drive my family members around all the time making lane changes and turns. I can reverse park, parallel park, and 3 point turn without a glitch but when it comes to test day something happens. My whole life I have been avoiding doing exams where people mark you on the spot but with the driving exam well there is no choice – it’s the only way.
After the fourth exam, I cried a little bit. I needed to cry to let my emotions out to deal with the failure. Just like I needed to go drive again that day on a few turns to prove to myself I can drive and be on the road. Accepting failure doesn’t mean suppressing the emotions. It means acknowledging them feeling them and then letting them pass. Crying and writing this blog helped me feel those emotions. Talking about it and sharing the feeling helped me.
There is learning in failure
Why is it in our society that talking about failing or failing is something embarrassing? We act as if everyone else hasn’t been there done that at some point in their life. Maybe worse than failing is that requirement we feel to keep it in.
Standing up again after failing is also important that is why going out for a drive that day was important to me to prove to myself that I will get up again.
Learning how to fail is probably a better lesson than learning how to drive for me. Life is going to throw you curve balls and they’re probably going to be worse than failing a driving test but learning how to cope when shit gets tough is something we aren’t taught. If you are like me and have reached 30 years old and barely failed, failure hits harder. I am glad I am getting this opportunity to learn how to fail so when in the future something worse happens I can better navigate how to cope.
30 lessons later and probably 2000 dollars spent on this and I was still at my fourth examination FAILED! Somehow though the failure in a weird way felt like an achievement as if I was being taught something that was greater. Not going to lie that fourth failure still felt shitty and still does. But from going to ‘I am never going to drive’ to managing to still stay at it after 4 fails is something I never expected of myself. So is it weird that now I sit on the night of my fourth failure I am weirdly proud of myself?