What A Year Of Driving Has Taught Me
The topic of driving is never one that I thought I would find myself wanting to write about. Well, that was until I realised that I am in-fact quite an anxious driver. It's the reason why I didn't continue to learn to drive when everybody else my age did. Fast forward 10 years I finally have my drivers license but the anxiety is still there, it plagued my entire learning to drive experience and even though I've been driving solo for well over a year now sometimes that anxiety still creeps up on me. So here is everything that a year of driving has taught me and some of the best things I've found for handling anxiety when on the road.
EVERYONE MAKES MISTAKES
We all probably want to think that we're excellent drivers and chances are most of us are pretty good and most importantly safe. But there is no such thing as a perfect driver and we all make mistakes. Sometimes we do miss things or we might be in the wrong lane and that's ok. 90% of the time a simple apology goes a long way on the road, there will always be those people who take it too far but that's just like anything in life. Road rage is a real thing for so many drivers and when you're on the receiving end of that it can be terrifying but inconveniencing somebody for less than 5 seconds never deems such a response from people.
IT'S OK NOT TO LOVE DRIVING
When I passed my driving test everybody told me that I would start to love driving, and there are some days that I really do enjoy it. And I used to be one of those people when I was 17 and all I wanted most in the world was to drive, I couldn't even imagine what it would be like to not to actually like it when I finally could. I love the fact that I've been able to afford myself a car and can take the dogs out whenever I can, that is such a privilege. But getting in the car doesn't always feel so enjoyable for me and I think that's ok. Some people absolutely adore driving, my boyfriend is one of those people and I think even he found it difficult to understand why it caused me such distress. Some people simply drive because they have to get themselves to A to B, but other than that would rather stay off the roads and that's ok. Now more than ever, the roads aren't always the nicest place to be and it's a shame that it's like that as it shouldn't have to be such a stressful experience.
DON'T LET OTHER PEOPLE DICTATE THE WAY YOU DRIVE
This was such a big one for me but it took me months to get the confidence not to let other people dictate the way that I drive. Because I've got a fresh shiny clean license I don't want any points on it at all so I stick to the speed limits and that seemingly angers most road users. And if they want points and a hefty fine on their license than that is on them but I don't want that so I don't let them dictate how I behave on the road. When people choose to tailgate and are aggressive, swing out dangerously to overtake that then it is on them. It's an awful feeling to be pressured to drive in the same manner way that they do and it takes a lot of courage to stick to your guns on the road but it's so important. As long as you're driving safely then it is no-one else's right to tell you what to do on the road.
NOT ALL CARS SUIT EVERY ONE
When I first passed my driving test, my boyfriend and I made the decision to share his car as there was no reason for me to buy my own as he was on tour so often at that point. However, once he took a break from touring and entered another line of work which meant him commuting 5 days a week we made the decision that I needed my own car. I picked a Fiat 500 as it was the smallest car I could find that I actually liked [I can't say I was always a fan]and the first time I drove it I had a completely different attitude towards driving. I felt confident in the vehicle I was driving and as a new driver, I cannot recommend having that feeling enough. Although I can drive my boyfriend's car competently now, driving an old car isn't the easiest thing in the world and sometimes you just don't gel with something and that's ok. It doesn't mean you're a terrible driver or not capable, it just means it's not for you. And going from your driver's instructors car, which will more than likely be new to something older is like starting to drive again. Which can be really disheartening but it does get easier as time goes on.
QUICK TIPS FOR DRIVING ANXIETY
- Allow yourself plenty of time.
- Don't let others bully you into speeding, it's your license on the line.
- And create an awesome playlist that makes you feel good.
- Remember why you wanted to drive.
- Don't let one bad incident or mistake plauge your entire drive.
- Take your time and do what feels comfortable.
- But don't keep yourself in a bubble, there is a reason why you learnt to drive.
- Having someone in the passenger seat that you trust is so important.
- Go on short trips by yourself at first and increase your distance gradually.
- Don't drive in a bad mood.