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?