I have bad news for people in the vicinity of the general world postcode. I have a driving lesson today. It is my third driving lesson, and yes I am allowed on the actual road. Scary thought I know.
Up until a few months ago I honestly believed that I would never learn to drive. I "knew" I was not able to learn to drive. Is it not amazing what a cage a mind can be?
Yes, I am 29 and for most people my age driving is like breathing but yip, I am a bit... different. Hereforth lies a woeful tale of cowardice and misconception.
I left home to study before my parents could teach me to drive, and I could not afford private lessons in Cape Town, so I had faaaaaairly legitimate reasons for not learning to drive back then. When I hooked up with the BFG his car got stolen and he left soon after for Antarctica, so there was that. Then we came to the UK and we had no car for ages... And somewhere in between all of these excuses and me aging hugely, I managed to convince myself that I was incapable. After all I have no spatial awareness, no instincts whatsoever in the driving arena, and I just suck.
It is weird how leaving something so long can build it up into this huge, terrifying obstacle in your mind. I became more and more nervous about the idea of driving on the road (without actually trying it) and more and more convinced that I was useless and a danger to other drivers. I got the BFG to start giving me a few lessons in parking lots last year but I knew deep down that it would never go further than that.
Until a few months ago, when I was talking with the new lady at work. When she heard me saying I would never be able to drive, she just laughed and said if she could do it anyone could and she firmly believed that all people can be taught to drive.
Now I have heard this millions of times before and never been swayed. But here was a girl who suffers from anxiety, who was terrified, who tried her test 9 times(!!!!) and never gave up. I would have given up long before my ninth attempt I suspect. I realised from speaking to her that my fear of driving was nothing, NOTHING in comparison to hers, but she had faced it head on and here I was happy and safe with my comfortable avoidance techniques.
What she said really made an impact on me, and then another lady at work told me almost the same story and I was like, freaking hell! I am a coward. And although I truly believed I could not drive, I also truly believed I could pass in less than 9 tries. Sense-making? No, but there you go.
I do struggle from a deep and terrible lack of confidence in myself. I always believe my capabilities are nil. But these ladies at work really forced me into admitting that before I decided I could not do it, I should actually try it.
So I booked myself a lesson in a moment of madness. The thought of it made me dizzy, and when I imagined myself nearer to the time, I figured I would freak out, feel ill, cry even.
Haha, how dramatic. I just used my usual technique of not thinking about it at all, and on the day I was utterly calm and it all flew by. I did not kill anyone or bash into anything. I was not even mildly nervous. And I had let my mind hold me back all this time because I thought or imagined I was terrified of driving? I never was terrified of driving at all. Apprehensive at most.
So ja, this is what the mind can do to you if you let it. I now wonder what it has prevented me from doing that I don't even know about because in my mind I "know" I can't do things.
But before this tale of cowardice and avoidance lulls you into thinking you are in fact safe on the roads let me just say that in my second lesson, I attempted to look into those mirror thingies on the side of the car that look like little ears (I have not grasped how to look at mirrors and still steer).
The instructor told me to check if any cars were coming, so I looked into the mirror and I saw a car, and at that moment I honestly had no idea whether the car that I saw was in front of me or behind. For real. True story. In fact it could have been above me for all the disorientation I felt.
So don't let your guard down just yet, methinks.