On The Road


Today I wanted to talk about driving, from starting my lessons to eventually passing my test in the hope that I can offer reassurance or advice for those who are worried about starting or doing the test! For those who follow me on twitter, you're probably thinking to yourself "Okay, you can shut up now! All you do is talk about driving" and while that may be true, it's because to me it feels like it's actually a pretty big deal. I feel like I fought with my anxiety and found the confidence to accomplish something. I thought it might be interesting to talk about my personal experiences being on the road and hopefully some of you can relate and might just feel a sense of comfort and reassurance that you're not alone.

I started my lessons just before my 17th Birthday. My Grandad took me in his car and I drove around the smallest car parks after hours when the roads were quiet. I can remember the first time I got behind the wheel and as terrifying as it was, I felt the greatest sense of freedom and independence. The whole point of going with my Grandad before my actual lessons was to help me with my confidence. I wanted to learn the basics and settle my nerves before driving with a complete stranger. Once I turned 17, I booked my first lot of lessons and I was terrified. There was no more driving in car parks, I'd actually be out on the road. I doubted myself so much and I was so tempted to just cancel. But I convinced myself that everything would be just fine and luckily it was. If anything, I loved my lessons and being out on the road more than I ever thought I would. Over time, I felt more and more in control being behind the wheel and my driving improved in no time at all. And then I did the stupid thing of cancelling my lessons and not sticking with it. My excuse at the time was that exam season was approaching and I had to prioritise my A Levels which was the right thing to do but it was also frustrating because by the time I went to book my second lot of lessons, I'd completely lost all confidence in my driving abilities and I felt as though I was back to square one.

I continued to stop and start my lessons which looking back just meant that I spent more money and wasted a lot more time. I was driving overall for a year and a half by the time I booked my first test which meant that I had more experience on the road. I'd been in so many different situations and dilemmas that nothing (apart from causing or being involved in a collision) really scared me. I felt ready and prepared to deal with whatever came my way which I feel so proud of myself for because I had a habit in my first few lessons of panicking and getting myself into horrible situations. Passing your theory test also gives you the biggest boost of confidence so I'm glad that you have to complete that test before booking your practical. I passed my theory first time in August 2017 and the following week I booked my test.

The Test

My first test was booked for September 22nd and I woke up and thought to myself "today is not the day." I had a horrible cold, I'd pulled a muscle in my neck and I just felt so awful and unprepared. I didn't expect to pass but I went to the test centre anyway and I just made stupid decisions on the road. It just really wasn't my day and my mental health hadn't been great for the week leading up to it. I failed by one serious event which in all fairness even the examiner stated that it was only partially my fault and it was just a case of making a wrong judgement. It wasn't nice but if anything it fuelled my determination to pass even more. I booked my second test for October 4th and I woke up feeling so confident and happy. I was so determined but I had to remind myself to stay completely calm. I tried to be chatty and friendly with the examiner before we set off because that way I felt more calm on the test as I felt as though we knew each other a little better. Luckily I passed with only 3 minors which I was absolutely gobsmacked at. He told me he was really impressed and I was later told that the examiner I had on my test is usually a very strict and critical marker so that made me feel even better. It felt like such a weight off my shoulders and I could just sigh with relief that it was over.

It's so much easier said than done but with driving you've just got to stick with it. I'm so impatient and that certainly didn't help me when I was learning because I'd get so frustrated with myself when I did something wrong. But making mistakes it okay. You're learning and it'll take time, believe me. It was only after a LOT of mistakes, a ridiculous number of lessons and an empty bank account that I managed to pass.

Helpful Tips

  • I know it's difficult when you're driving at 40mph and there are a million thoughts racing through your head but do everything you can to STAY CALM. Take a deeeeep breath and remind yourself that everything will be fine. Just take your time, be patient with yourself and don't rush anything.
  • Talk to your instructor. I was always very open and honest with my driving instructors about how I felt and creating a bond with them makes you feel so much more relaxed. By the end of my lessons, it felt as though I was going for a drive with a friend which was lovely. It's also important to find an instructor that you get on well with. Trust me, I had countless driving instructors before I found the best one for me. I loved the way she taught me and she was so reassuring which calmed me immensely. There are so many driving schools and instructors out there, find one that brings the best out of you and makes you feel comfortable.
  • If first you don't succeed, try and try again. Luckily I passed my theory test first time but passed my practical second time. The first and second time I did my test were completely different experiences and I'm actually so glad I didn't pass the first time because it wasn't the right time. You'll know when you're ready to book your test so just be as patient as you can because you'll get there eventually. Take constructive criticism and advice on board and work your ass off to improve. No lesson is ever wasted.
  • Clear your mind before driving. Whether it's just before a driving lesson, your test or just a trip to the supermarket. Having a clear mind is so important because the slightest distraction can cause an accident. Have a warm drink, listen to music, do whatever it is that calms you down and just take some deep breaths. You'll be fine, I promise. 
  • Be positive. It's difficult not to overthink mistakes made on the road. I'm absolutely awful for doing it but it's important not to let the little errors spoil the whole drive. Everyone makes mistakes but it's great to be optimistic and think to yourself "at least I can learn from my mistakes." And remember, the more practice you have, the more confident you'll feel.
I'm so relieved that I managed to pass my test but that doesn't mean that I don't still get nervous on the road, especially now that it's just me and there isn't anyone sitting in the passengers seat. I feel so proud of myself and it feels like such a big deal because I've been driving for sososo long now because I just kept putting it off. Trust me when I say that it will give you the biggest boost of confidence and the greatest sense of freedom and independence. And remember that whether you've been driving for 10 minutes or 10 years, everyone makes mistakes. 

I hope you enjoyed this post. I wanted to share my story with driving and remember that my DM's are always open if you've got any questions or you're looking for advice. I'm by no means an expert but I'm still here if you need anything. I hope you've had a great day wherever you are.

Lots of Love, 
Meg X

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