After two and a half years learning, buying myself a car, trying to learn, fitting it in when I can and taking FIVE tests, I’ve finally passed my driving test. You would not believe how unbelievably happy I am. This is one of the best things to happen for my independence and has changed our lives somewhat! I thought this post might bring some inspiration and hope to anyone who’s learning at the moment that it’s definitely do-able! I really thought I was never going to pass because nerves got to me so badly but I’m now allowed on the roads and it’s changed everything!
Let’s take it back to where it started. When I turned 20 I decided that it was about time to start learning to drive. I didn’t bother with lessons at 17 like most of my friends as I knew that I was going to go to university in London and who needs a car in London anyway? This was a solid plan until the part where I moved out of London and spent the summer holidays outside of London most of the time. At 20, I used what I could of my spare money from my student loan or my part-time jobs to pay for lessons in Bury St Edmunds, near from where I’m from and lived with Dan at the time.
I knew the area and to me, that made a big difference in being able to feel like I could pass if I knew where I was going. To cut a long story very short, I attempted 3 tests in Bury St Edmunds, the first two were flukes and I really shouldn’t have done them. My driving skills weren’t up to scratch and the confidence wasn’t there.
Nerves played a MASSIVE part in my failures, my legs would shake uncontrollably on the clutch. I would get really hot, I tried Rescue Remedy (in fact I probably took way too much of the stuff) and it did nothing. It was like a mental battle because it meant so much to me.
In my late teens and early 20’s I had heavily relied on trains, taxis and my dad in my teens or Dan in my early twenties. No one ever complained or got annoyed at giving me lifts but there’s something a bit disappointing in having to keep asking to go places or asking for permission. You feel like your limiting them as much as yourself.
Moving to Northampton. In 2016 when I finished university and we moved to Northampton it was becoming more obvious I needed to drive. Although our house was in a great location, it was a 5 min walk to Tesco, the gym and I could walk to work if I needed to (albeit a very steep hill, dual carriageway and 30 minutes, it was possible).
In the same year and a few months after moving, I decided to buy myself a Citroen C1 to start practising and get some experience under my belt. For the price, I paid in finance on the car, as long as I did 4 hours of driving a month I was breaking even compared to driving lessons.
In a year and a half, I have done over 4000 miles in my little car. It passed its MOT with flying colours and it was becoming very trustworthy. I did attempt one test in it but failed by going over the roundabout just at the wrong time, it was fine but it was a fail in their books.
The issue was nerves got to me, money became tighter with the wedding and life and we got to a point where we want to move house again and we’re stuck because I can’t drive.
Biting the bullet. So I finally booked another test, I had done a couple of lessons with a Northampton instructor so I could grasp some tips about the town, where to go, what to know and double check my manoeuvres. This really helped because I could absolutely drive, but my nerves and skills just needed perfecting.
I booked a test in November but checked and it came up that there was a cancellation within 3 days. So on Friday 20th October, I took a long lunch (very much appreciated, thanks, Boss) and went and did it.
By doing my lessons and practice a few nights before, I felt like I knew what to expect. My nerves were sitting in my stomach and no longer was my leg shaking but of course, I did wonder if I was any good.
I DID IT! When we pulled up into the car park and he said the test was finished. I said, “PLEASE tell me I’ve passed.” He pulled out the certificate pad and I have never been so happy. Dan looked like he was going to cry, secretly I believe he’s sad he doesn’t have to give me lifts to my nail appointments anymore really.
By having my car, taking the time that suited me, driving over 4000 miles to places I’ve never been before and experiencing the road, I smashed it with only two very insignificant miles! It has been the hardest battle for me, I hate being an inconvenience and this has allowed me to have all the freedom I’ve ever wanted.
I can now see my friends and family more, I can go places without bothering anyone. I can take my mum shopping to places she can’t go to as she doesn’t drive so I can take her out now. I can see my grandma more and everything is coming into place especially if we move.
I just wanted to document my experience for anyone struggling to pass, because it is possible. Persevere, it’s a mental battle and one I never truly believed I’d pass. I pass academic tests with flying colours so this wasn’t an easy one for me. Keep the skills going, don’t give up, you will get there!
Watch out Northampton… I’m on the road!!!