Finding Confidence Behind The Wheel

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Driving. Driving has become my nemesis. At this moment in my life, driving is the biggest battle that I need to win. I’ve spoken about this frequently on the internet and even more frequently with friends and family. While I am obviously not proud of my fear of driving, I am also not ashamed to admit it. I find the whole concept of getting in a car, with my precious daughter and driving on the roads, absolutely terrifying. I’ve never been a confident driver. It took on and off lessons for around two years before I booked a test. And although I passed the first time, it felt like a serious fluke. Even my driving instructor was surprised when I passed, which didn’t exactly set me off with much confidence. I found out I was pregnant just a couple of weeks after passing my test and that straight away made me even more nervous to drive than I had been already. I should have forced myself to get lots of practise in then, but my job at the time was easier to get to via public transport and so I had little motivation to get in the car. As my pregnancy progressed, so did my reluctance to drive. There was always an excuse, from feeling too sick and dizzy to my bump being in the way. My pregnancy passed and then I had a new excuse, the perfect excuse for everything, a new baby.

Any mother will testify to the fact that transitioning into motherhood is not easy in the slightest and I know I am not alone when I say that it majorly knocked my confidence. Even the most confident of drivers will admit to feeling nervous driving with their baby for the first time. And so, life went on with no driving for little old me. I’ve always been a public transport user and so taking Darcie on the bus was not daunting for me. It felt much easier than having to strap my baby into a car and brave the roads. Time has gone on, we’ve had many lifts, many bus rides, but now as I am pregnant with baby number two, I know the time has come to face my fear and get the hell over it. One baby on the bus is a doddle, I feel that two would be a totally different ball game. Not only that, but in the summer I want to be able to take Darcie to more places than we can reach easily on the bus, and that is where most of my motivation is coming from.

So what am I doing to find my confidence on the roads?

We bought a new car

Up until recently, our ‘family car’ was Dan’s car that he had owned and loved for many years before I even entered his life. As much as he loved it, it was old and becoming less and less reliable. Every time a fault emerged, no matter how minor, it made me want to drive it even less. As our family will be expanding in June, we needed a new car anyway but in buying a much newer, more modern and generally safer feeling car, my confidence to drive it has increased. While it is going to take a while to feel comfortable driving a bigger car, generally I trust it more and feel safer driving it.

I’m changing how I think about driving

Everyone does it. Literally some of the most incompetent people I know can drive, so why do I tell myself I can’t? I’ve always prided myself on being pretty competent at most things in life and so why should driving be any different? I think it all comes down to mindset. I’ve allowed it to become this huge scary thing, when in reality it’s not, and the sooner I get over it the better.

I’m trusting myself and ignoring my nervous passenger

My nervous passenger is, of course, my other half Dan. Since buying the new¬† car, it has become like another child to Dan, and so quite understandably seeing me behind the wheel leaves him a nervous wreck. White knuckled he grips onto the edge of his seat, ready to spring and grab the wheel from my hand. I am (barely) exaggerating but as I’m sure you can imagine, this ball of nervous energy in the passenger seat of the car does nothing to calm my own nerves or fill me with confidence. Sometimes it’s helpful to have him there, to check something I’m unsure of or ask the way, but mostly I have learnt to ignore him (in the nicest possible way of course).

I’m just doing it

The best way to get confident at anything, is just to practise. The problem I have is that because I don’t enjoy driving, it doesn’t occur to me to be the designated driver when we are going out. But I am trying to change that, starting off with short, easy journeys. I’m just doing it.

I wish I could tell you all the quick fix I am using to find my confidence behind the wheel. But if there was a quick fix I wouldn’t have been waiting in the rain at bus stops for the last two years. Hopefully in a few months time I’ll be writing all about the adventures than we have, driving around to new places and showing Darcie more of the world around her. For now, it’s a work in progress, but that’s okay.

Do you have any words of wisdom for me?

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  1. Laura Torbitt

    I’m a driving instructor and tell all my students the only way to build confidence is to practice practice practice!! Take a few short jouneys and then gradually increase the distance and try to avoid rush hour until you feel happier. Take a deep breath, keep looking well ahead and leave lots of room from the car in front. This will give you more time to react to things and it won’t feel like such a panic when something suddenly changes. Good luck! You’ve got this!

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