At the grand age of 31, I am learning to drive! I first started 18months ago, when pregnant with C (and when I started this sober stretch). It’s been on and off, but I’ve recently started back up again with a new instructor, and have been doing a 2-3 hour lesson a week.
I enjoy it. I love to learn. I love the quiet time. I love the feeling of doing something just for me, away from the house, the kids, the work.
It’s showing me the harder and less favourable sides of my personality too. I’m incredibly frustrated with myself if I make a (what I perceive) to be a silly mistake. I can then get distracted because I’m too busy dwelling on that mistake. I get flustered when I’m embarrassed (from making a mistake). I procrastinate a lot (from changing address on my licence, to booking my tests, to actually revising for said tests). I’m very hard on myself, and will quietly brood about a bad lesson for ages, even if I’ve had some really positive aspects to it.
My last lesson was one such example. Previously, my instructor and I had discussed that if this lesson went well, and I drove consistently, we would be heading to the city in which I’d be taking my test to practice test routes. This is a big deal, as I live in the country and so this signifies a huge step in terms of progress and my driving ability.
So of course… I stalled, holding up traffic. I rolled back, I attempted some things at the wrong speed, or gear. And then mentally fell apart as I knew I was messing up the basics, which we’ve covered often and I’ve done well at. Needless to say, the decision was taken to delay our city driving (which I completely understand, and appreciate his decisions. I trust his judgement and know I am learning well overall with him). And I was gutted. I haven’t written this before because I was ashamed, embarrassed and disappointed with myself. Ah, self flagellation, we meet again.
Once again, I’m trying to learn from this experience and not get hung up. There’s positives here, and were in my lesson too – my approach and perspective needs to change. Because I
- Didn’t give up, or throw my toys out of the pram. I continued to try, and owned my errors and reasons why
- Didn’t get angry, or turn into a spiky, defensive ball
- Listened to and accepted criticism
- Actually aced a number of manoeuvres (reverse bay parking, parallel parking, reversing around a corner and 3 point turn)
- Was honest about my feelings
- Booked three lessons in advance, and asked for advice on how to improve
- Thanked my instructor for his patience, time and honesty, and reiterated that I feel I learn well with his teaching.
These may seem like small things. But it’s a huge leap forwards in terms of how I would have handled it two years ago, in active addiction. So, there is no such thing as a bad lesson, as I’m showing progress each week, even if it’s personal growth rather than driving ability. And I remind myself that each lesson is a step towards a goal that I will achieve, no matter how long it takes me. I’m not giving up.
And it’s the same with life – sometimes you take a step back, or stumble, or take an unexpected turn. Sometimes we go back on ourselves and need to pick ourselves up, refocus, take smaller steps. But that’s ok too, as long as you keep moving. The trip from A to Z might sound easy, but there’s still a whole number of stops and letters as part of that journey.