Thursday, 16 February 2017

Conquering my biggest fear

Confidence with driving

From the outside, my life appears pretty together. 

At twenty-four, I've moved out, gained a degree, a job and a career and have found enough spare time to write a blog about my life, health and wellbeing. 

But there's been a big thing holding me back for the past six years.

I hate driving. 

As in, palpitation triggering, nightmare-inducing, hatred for it. The only other thing that gets me in such a state is the sight of a mouse scuttling past...

The very first time I drove was on my seventeenth birthday. My parents bought me driving lessons as a present and initially it was fine. I never loved my driving lessons, but then I typically did them after school when all I really wanted to do was go home and get my homework out the way so I could get on Facebook.

It took two goes, but I did manage to pass my test six months later and although the photo is horrendous, I was thrilled to have a pink driving licence.

I don't know when driving became such a fear for me, but it gradually morphed from an annoyance to genuinely feeling sick at the mere thought of getting behind the wheel. Living in a well-connected London suburb, there was no incentive to drive if I didn't want to. My parents still drove my siblings to school, my friends all lived walking distance and I had a free bus pass and easy access to the tube. 

School ended and I went off to university, driving a long-abandoned skill and the pink licence's sole use became proof that I could legally buy alcohol or enter a nightclub....

Every university holiday I swore would be the one I got driving again. Then I said I'd do it before I started work. But there was always an excuse.

People are always relatively surprised to hear that I hate driving. All through university, friends simply assumed that I either couldn't drive or just didn't own a car. 

I decided to make 2017 the year I got driving again. I couldn't keep putting it off. My friends no longer all live in walking distance. I don't particularly want to spend the rest of my life living in the town centre simply for convenience.  And standing freezing cold on a train platform at midnight, or experiencing a rail replacement bus service on a Sunday have motivated me more than I could ever have imagined!

So on Tuesday morning, I finally found myself sat behind the steering wheel of a car, ready for a refresher lesson. I'd booked the lesson about a month in advance and I was so grateful for the busy weeks leading up to it, keeping my mind off of it. Even so, the hour before I couldn't focus on anything else!

Two whole hours of driving. I opted to start on a quiet estate but progressed very quickly to busier roads, country lanes, town centres, dual carriageways. Sure, it wasn't rush hour, but there were buses and lorries to contend with, high streets with pedestrians appearing everywhere. And, well, it was fine! This is what I've been putting off for six years?!

In some ways, I wish I'd pushed myself to do it earlier, but I think it was worth waiting until I felt ready. Six extra years of maturity, six extra years of being a passenger were what it took to finally feel comfortable. And although I didn't get out the car desperate to do it all over again, I don't think I'm going to be having nightmares about driving anymore. 

Sometimes, you just have to push yourself, get out of the comfort zones and see what you can do when you put your mind to it, conquering those fears. I've regained my confidence in driving and challenged my anxiety.

That's enough fear conquering for one year though... 2018 will be the one I deal with the mice. (LOL. No, never getting over that  one!)

Anyone else experienced anxiety about driving? What have you challenged yourself to do despite being scared?




  1. Good luck!! I used to avoid driving as well, it still makes me nervous. Then I had a placement in outer Sydney with bad transport links so I was forced into it!

    jane / deluminators

    1. Thank you! Yes, poorly connected placements were so frustrating for me!

  2. I totally know how you feel. I started learning to drive when I was 18 in a manual car but I found it painful as I have hip dysplasia and so I gave up. I later decided I would try again in an automatic as I wouldn't have to use my left leg but it took me another 4 years to get going again, and anxiety certainly played a role in this.

    Once I got going again and got over that initial dreaded first lesson I found that I loved it and I ended up passing first time just 5 months after restarting my lessons.

    But yay! Go you! It will get so much easier and then before you know it you'll be driving everywhere and not giving a second thought.

  3. See I avoid the motorway like crazy (I saw a horrific accident and then didn't drive for two years - by coincidence) but the motorway and certain a roads give me terrible panic, I feel numb and horrid. I am actually looking into going on a driving course for it a its so bad! Weirdly before I drove everywhere the motorway didn't phase me!

  4. You go girl!! It's so hard to get over fears - they create a mental block that's so hard to get around! However, you're doing such a great thing by facing your fears head on and getting back behind the wheel! You've got this, and I bet you're a great driver!

    Abbey 😘

  5. I'm just about to start learning to drive and my god am I nervous about it! Reading this post helped me see that it's not just me that feels like this and other people get anxious about it as well 💖

  6. Good luck girly! When I first started driving, I was always super scared and nervous but now, I actually feel excited to drive! x


  7. Hi, I didn't need to drive for a while and wasn't that confident when I started again. I ended up doing the carpark that is the M25 at night when it was quiet and now I seem to spend far too much time on it. Just keep at it and your confidence will come, Chloe #TeacupClub

  8. Well done! I haven't yet learnt to drive but it's an aim before I turn thirty! Gives me seven years aha!

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Lifestyle Blog

  9. I definitely think driving is one of those things that get better in time! There are always those things you build up in your head for too long, better to get them over and done with. I'm doing that with the dentist!!

    <a href="> Jasmin Charlotte </a>

  10. Amazing, well done you for getting back out there and going for it! So glad your refresher lesson went well. I am quite an anxious driver, but since changing jobs (and my commute going from dark tiny country lanes to bigger roads) I feel so much safer and less anxious! If I am feeling a bit anxious though, I plan my route and talk to myself. Sounds crazy but it really helps me talking it through!

    Suitcase and Sandals Blog XX

  11. I can so sympathise with this! I remember feeling this way having spent 3 years at uni and a further year not driving. My return to driving 'taster' lesson was so good, and I felt much more confident when faced with the Spanish hire car on holiday that summer!! Good on you, I think 'driving fear' is more common than people think :) xx

  12. Well done for getting behind the wheel again!! I hated driving for YEARS and have only just started to enjoy it properly!

  13. I used to not like driving either. I got a license though, as my parents had moved to a place not serviceable with public transport. Then I moved to a car drivers' hell or paradise - Texas. Here pretty much everyone drives, except a few blind or others who can't drive. Using public transpire brings that sense of freedom to me now; no more worrying about not seeing what happens around me, about not seeing or guessing what other drivers will do. And when I tell people I use the bus, many look at me weirdly, like it was such an unusual thing to do.
    Driving can be a nice skill, but it can also be so overrated.

  14. Yay well done, it's a shame you had to feel scared of driving for all those years though but you've done it now and nothing can stop you!
    Amy at Amy & More


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