Friday, 13 April 2018

My Experience On Learning To Drive

Now I know for most people learning to drive isn't a big deal at all and as soon they turn 17 they book their lessons and pass within a matter or months but for me, it was the complete opposite. Not only was I not really bothered about learning at 17 but I was also absolutely bricking it. Hence why I put it of for 2 years (and why it took me nearly 18 months to pass !!)

Let's start at the beginning. I was nearly 19 when I first booked my lessons. I had been at my apprenticeship (now my full time job) for well over a year and I was getting so fed up with relying on my parents for lifts there and back everyday. As much as I was a nervous wreck about the thought of doing it, I knew I had to bite the bullet. Also, I knew I could stop at any time if I really really hated it so before I knew it I booked in a block of lessons with the same instructor that my sister passed with. A couple of weeks later it was my first lesson and I was RUBBISH. The nerves basically got the better of me and I couldn't even use the steering wheel properly. I was a shaky nervous wreck BUT I stuck at it and had constant weekly lessons. However just as I was getting ready to book my theory, my instructor got a new job and that was that. No more lessons. It sucked as I was just starting to build my confidence up and now it was completely knocked back down.
I found a new instructor a couple of months later and again, booked another block of lessons. She made me book in for my theory within a few weeks and surprise surprise, I failed. I didn't revise and I was SO nervous that I was not prepared AT ALL. My biggest tip is to deffo pay the £4.99 for the official DVLA app because when I booked my 2nd one I used the app everyday for practice questions and hazard videos and I passed !!!! (only just mind, but hey ho... it still counts !!!!)
Now I had done my theory we started practicing manouvers and talking about booking my practical test and this is where things started to go wrong again. My instructor had quite a lot going on personally and my lessons started becoming rushed and she was becoming very distracted which did not help my anxiety or nerves at all. Basically, my test was booked for June 2017 and the lesson before I just knew I wasn't ready. My instructor was rushing me, not letting me practice manurers properly and there were things that I still hadn't learnt but she didn't seem to care! I ended up getting out the car and breaking down to my parents about it and ended up cancelling my test and quitting lessons there and then. Again, my confidence was knocked back to square one. However, I wasn't giving up. I had come such a long way that by now I just wanted to get it done.
So, I turned to Facebook to find a new instructor and was recommend a new one. And she was BRILLIANT. She had the patience of an absolute saint, understood everything about my worries and anxiety and even put up with a breakdown I had when doing a mock test (yes I cried, yes it was awful but she handled it amazingly!!) She even let me listen to Ed Sheehan whilst driving to calm my nerves which was amazing.
So I was finally ready to book my practical test. My instructor was brilliant and didn't push or rush me at all and let me book it in my own time. So I booked it for the end of October and I felt properly ready for the first time ever. My instructor even spoke to the examiner beforehand and asked them to allow me to have music on in the background to help calm my nerves which was a big help (I definitely recommend it as it gives you something else to think about and something else to fill awkward silences !!)

So, Test one.... I failed HA. I woke up that morning feeling so weirdly and strangely calm that I kinda knew in my head that I wasn't going to pass, which looking back now was hint one that I wasn't going too. Basically I failed 3 different ways. One of which was pulling out of the test centre and stalling in the middle of the road which meant a car couldn't pass and had to stop, so it didn't start great lets be honest. I then reversed up the kerb on my manoeuvre (oops) and then moved off with my handbrake on 3 times (you can't have 3 minors in the same category which was exactly that !!) But anyway, because I knew that I had failed before the examiner had even told me, I was actually okay about it and just put it behind me and moved on.

Test two was booked for 3 days before Christmas (literally the last test of 2017) and I passed !! To be honest, I still can't believe I did it. I had to take the new driving test this time round which meant 2 new manoeuvres and using a sat nav but it was okay. My examiner was a gem and we just talked about our plans for Christmas the whole time. We also got stuck in horrible traffic so my test actually lasted 20 more minutes than it should of but again, it was okay ! I passed with 3 minors (again, I'm not quite sure how) which were for really silly things but that doesn't matter. As long as you get less than 15 and no majors, you've done it!! When she told me that I had passed I was so relieved I actually cried. Like FULL ON cried. I cried so much my instructor thought I had failed again before she got in the car !! It was tears of relief, happiness and also tears of "I've actually bloody done it" I'm not gunna lie.

So basically, if you're like me and putting learning to drive due to fear, anxiety or finding the whole idea of it super stressful then I hope this post helps. please don't give up if something goes wrong - I had THREE instructors but I made it work!! And in a way I'm glad I had to go through the shit second one because my third instructor was an absolute gem. Things do happen for a reason !! Even now, I'm still a tad nervous driving. I literally drive to work and back (which takes ten mins...) by myself and apart from that I have someone with me. I've only done the motorway once with my dad and a multi-story once with my sister. It takes time but I know it'll all fall into place eventually. Trust me, if I can do it, you can too!!

Helpful Tips

- NEVER compare your journey to someone else, it too me around 18 months and 3 instructors until I passed whereas for someone else it could take 3 months and 1 instructor. Whatever you do, DON'T rush it and put pressure on yourself. Take your time!!
-Rescue Remedy Blackcurrant Pastilles are the best thing ever at helping to calm you before a lesson or your test. I used to take one before I started driving and they worked a miracle !
-Do not let failing your theory or practical test put you off. I did both of mine 2nd time, you can do this !!
-Start every lesson with a positive attitude otherwise theres no point even being in the car.
-If you're not comfortable with your instructor, change them !! Learning to drive is such a big (and damn expensive) thing to do that It should be 100% right !
I got this car sign kindly sent to me from Signomatic and I love it! They have loads of different designs to chose from and customise, not just car signs so definitely take a look !!

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