Driving Solo

I got a car recently. I – miraculously – passed my driving test on the last day of January, on my first go – about which, I hope you understand, I’m not trying to brag. Having passed on my first try only adds to my problem right now. My problem is that I feel hilariously, terrifyingly unqualified to drive.

I have papers coming out of my ears, covered front and back in small print legalese, that show I’m qualified to drive a car on the roads of the United Kingdom. I have a tax disc. I have insurance documents. I have two pass certificates, a photocard and a paper counterpart. All of which means that I can sit in that (adorably dinky) car, turn the key, and pull away.

So why do I feel as if I’m stuck in one of those nightmares where I’ve been handed too much responsibility and am now going to have to bluff my way through something terrifically complicated and dangerous? You know the ones – you’re plopped down in the driving seat of a space shuttle without a day’s training, and now Houston is counting down and the rockets are firing and you have to press something, anything, and oh god it’s going so quickly and there are so many buttons and what are you going to do?

That is how I feel right now. Or, more accurately, that’s how I felt an hour ago when I reversed ineptly out of my drive and pulled, lurching, away down the road. That’s how I continued to feel as I pootled around the suburban roads of my small Gloucestershire town. And that, turned up to eleven, is how I felt when I did a hill start to pull out onto the main road.

Right now, I feel the way you often feel having woken from a nightmare: breathing fast and still shaky with residual panic. And I suppose the main thing concerning me right now is: how the hell am I going to survive if I feel like this every time I drive that car?

The trouble is that I’ve had a certain issue all my life, as far as I can remember: nobody believes in me. All around me, throughout my teenage years and into early adulthood, people around me have questioned my ability to do things – whether it’s do my job or file my paperwork or take care of a friend, I’ve always been given the impression of doubt and concern. Hell, the reactions at my learning to drive were enough. I guess I don’t give off the impression of being completely in control, in any aspect of my life.

So if I were to say, ‘I can’t do this,’ I am reasonably certain everyone around me would take me at my word.

I can’t have that. I refuse to spend my life being babied because everyone knows that I’m useless. I refuse to be useless.

The only answer to my problem – to any of my problems, really – is to just believe in myself. So no one else does? I’ll just have to believe hard enough for all of them. Giving up cannot be an option, otherwise I’ll just be proving everyone right.

You know what? It’s scary as shit, but everyone feels this way at first. I can drive. I know what all those buttons in the space shuttle do, and I can fly this goddamn rocket.

On that note: here’s a sweet song I’m going to be singing under my breath tomorrow when I drive my mother to her doctor’s appointment.

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