automobile automotive car dashboard
Photo by Ingo Joseph on

Learning to drive was definitely one of my biggest obstacles and also one of my greatest accomplishments. My fear was always what seemed to get in the way from even getting myself into the driver seat. At first, I had to pay attention to learning how to work the switches in the car. Then it was actually getting out of the driveway and onto the street. Of course all that seemed way too easy next to the final step. The one thing I feared the most was the freeway.

I was 17 sitting on our front steps as I watched my step-dad teach my older brother how to give the car an oil change. That old white Ford Explorer still going even after all its been through. We have had that truck for years now and it has more dents and scratches than I can even keep track of. This truck has been the learning car for all of my older siblings. They all got their driver’s license in it and of course I wanted to make sure to keep that tradition going. As a kid I always imagined myself driving that car. Once my step-dad and brother had finished I realized that was my opportunity to finally ask if he could teach me to drive. Once I asked him, he looked at me with an unexpressed face and said,“What! Well it’s about time!” I got into the driver seat and my step-dad was instructing me from the passenger window. I got the car turned on and he said, “Alright, put the car on drive and when you let go of the brake, slightly press the gas pedal so you can get a feel how the car feels.” I might have pressed a little to hard and nearly dragged my step-dad from the window. That scared me off the driver seat leaving me unable to drive for a few more months.

A couple months passed by when my sister must have decided I had to overcome this fear. She parked the car after we dropped the younger kids at school and said “Alright, get into the driver seat,” I was shocked and replied, “ARE YOU CRAZY!” At the moment I honestly believed my sister had lost her mind, but I obeyed got into the driver seat. The bright side to that morning was that the street we were on was quite isolated. There wasn’t much I could hit except a couple of small trees and some bushes so that really eased my anxiety on the whole idea. Even though I was terrified of messing up her bright red Hyundai, I put the car on drive and followed all the steps as she said. I let go of the brake pedal and slightly pressed on the gas. I slowly increased the speed and actually made it down the street without hitting anything. Of course I was only going straight so it would have been odd to have hit any of the bushes.Her point to making me drive up the street was so I could get the feel of the car actually moving. After that I got enough courage to actually driving on the busy street. I first I didn’t think it was going to end well, but I made it home with no scratch or dent to my sisters car. I practiced every other day by driving my mom to the store which was 3 blocked away from where we live. Then I slowly started driving further and further. I ended up driving all day just because I enjoyed the feeling of actually driving myself.

My final step was getting on the freeway, but I put that in the back of my mind so I didn’t even think about it. I stayed on the streets for some time without needing to take the freeway. Then planning to go to the beach with my friends became an inconvenience. Everyone worked so getting someone to drive me to the beach was a bit difficult. Even after I had to cancel I kind of still didn’t think about getting on the freeway. A month later my step-dad got sick. My parents both worked together and since my mom couldn’t drive my step-dad always did. My older siblings also had work every morning to they couldn’t drive her to work. That left me as the only option to get my mother to work. I tried to get out of that by explaining that I barely started to get used to driving but my mom wasn’t taking my excuse as an answer. So the very next morning she woke me up way too early. I really wasn’t happy about that even if I was a morning person. I knew that the freeway was going to be completely different from how I was driving on the street. My mom told me that it was really early so the freeway won’t be too busy. As I got onto the freeway I panicked a little when I noticed how many semi-trucks were already surrounding me. Nevertheless, I had to throw my fear away and keep calm. My mom next to me really made a difference. She started the most random conversations, so I wouldn’t panic on the trucks that were next to me. We made it to her job without dying so I’d like to say that was a great accomplishment. I left her there and hoped back into the freeway to head home since of course I still had to get to school too.

I have always enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment just as much as any person. I can’t say I can get around the freeway without Google Maps though but I can get through the freeway just like any other person. I wasn’t the best driver at first and I can admit I drove like a grandma too. Now I’m able to drive that old beat up Ford Explorer and it all began when I  able was get out of my comfort zone. I had to test my limits and not let fear hold me back from doing anything. I was able to get my license and now I can drive myself anywhere and all it took was practice and not giving up even when mistakes were made.