Driving Lessons

Me after my first driving lesson (this is not my car)

I turn 45 this year. It’s weird to even think about that age. I feel like it’s sort of an in-between age – not quite middle-aged (although technically it’s smack bang in the middle of a normal life expectancy for someone like me), not quite young anymore.

I’m old enough to be going grey and feeling aches and pains now. And I’ve suddenly started making those little groaning noises whenever I have to bend down or get up.

My body clock has changed, too. I’ve suddenly turned into my grandmother, waking around 5.30am in the mornings instead of being able to sleep in past 8.

I’m kind of meh about turning 45, if I’m really honest. It feels that much closer to 50, which freaks me out, but I feel like I’m starting to come into my own a bit.

I feel a little more empowered too, I think, which is why I’ve finally bitten the bullet and decided to get my driving license.

There are other personal reasons for finally taking the plunge, but the main non-personal reason is that I don’t want to have to renew my L’s again.

I’ve had my L’s consistently since I got them at 16 1/2 but apart from a few lessons way back then, and a drive with my wife when we lived in Roma, I’ve never really driven a car.

Part of it is anxiety-driven, part of it is the unknown, and part of it is my perfectionist tendencies – needing to know how to do something before I actually go and do it.

Fighting off my anxiety around driving has been no mean feat.

The thought of all of the things I have to do to be in charge of a car overstimulates and exhausts my brain.

I mean, I had a mini break down after I got off the phone from booking my first lesson, so you can imagine what I was like on the day I had to drive a car for the first time in 8 or 9 years.

In the week leading up to that first lesson, I talked to a couple of friends and my family about my anxieties and worries, and my wife was amazingly supportive.

Before my first lesson, as I folded laundry to calm my nerves, I repeated the mantra ‘You don’t have to be good at it. That’s the point.’

It seemed to work.

As did the instructor. He was amazing. He brought an automatic for me to drive first to get me used to the road and being in charge of a car, which allowed us to just chat about random stuff.

He dug into my anxieties around driving and together we came up with my ‘outs’ (the little things I need to have in the back of my mind so that I know I can get out of any situation I don’t feel comfortable in) and how to combat my fear.

That first lesson lasted 2 hours and although I was exhausted afterward, I also felt empowered and much more confident.

Since then, I’ve had 2 more lessons, one in a manual, and one in an automatic, and have decided to go for my automatic license.

While I think I may be able to eventually become confident enough to drive a manual car, having the extra step of changing gears peaks my anxiety levels.

An automatic license, while a little restrictive, will at least get me on the road and driving.

So, my wife and I are on the hunt for a new car, since our current one is a manual.

This is an exciting prospect in itself, because normally when we’re buying a new car, my wife gets most of the say because she’s the driver.

This time, though, I feel like for the first time in our 17 year relationship that we finally get to choose a car together.

I wonder if I’ll now get music privileges?? Something to look forward to…

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