I have had a few requests to do this post so I thought it was worth doing, plus I also think it is a good opportunity for me to share my experiences, because I haven’t really talked about my driving at all on social media apart from sharing that I have passed on Instagram. It was one of them things that I just wanted to keep to myself, but now I have passed I am happy to share some tips and tricks, as well as my experiences, as hopefully it will help someone. I apologise in advance for the ramble of a blog post though!
For a bit of a backstory- I passed my test second time on the 29th May 2019 when I was 18, so I have been driving for a few weeks now. My driving experience wasn’t really like my friends as, due to health circumstances beyond my control, I had a lot of stopping and starting of my lessons. I first started my driving lessons in October 2017 after turning 17, and had the classic 1 hour a week whilst I was at sixth form. However, by February in that time I was on certain medications which meant that it was not safe for me to drive anymore, so I had to quit my lessons. To be honest, I probably would have quit anyway because of my A level exams. The just when I was getting back on my feet, I moved to uni and then didn’t do anymore lessons again. Annoying- but overall I think it was for the best as I clearly wasn’t in the right headspace for driving.
Lets be honest here- driving did not come naturally to me. It seems weird for me to say this as, despite this making me seem like the most arrogant person out there, I am not used to struggling when it comes to learning things. But driving… not for me. I was nervous, not confident, and to be honest I didn’t think I would ever pass. I used to build up fears in my head, dread lessons and feel really down whenever I finished my lessons (although tbh I think that was partly due to the instructor). He was the kind of person that used to point out everything I did wrong and nothing that I did right and, for a perfectionist like me, it made me feel really deflated. I know that this is a problem with me and not the instructor and I need to get better when dealing with criticism, but it just made me hate driving even more.
In February 2018, I passed my theory test first time. This made me happy as it was one of the things of driving I could actually have control over and know I was going to do well in. I’m naturally pretty academic, so being able to learn something actually came as a blessing in comparison to the actual driving lessons. It was relatively easy, and if you actually revise for it you will do well. My biggest tip for the theory would be to download the official app, I think it is £5 but it is definitely worth it as they test you on the exact questions that you will experience in the theory test. Doing it over and over again will waste so much money and time, so treat it like a school exam and you will pass with flying colours.
Anyway- back to actually driving. University happened, time was passing and I just needed to pass my test. So we booked an intensive course for over my easter holidays, where I would do 20 hours of driving over the course of 10 days, and then have my test on the 11th day. It was very tiring, very intensive and very expensive but so worth it. I would really recommend it to nervous drivers even if you think you are going to hate it, because having a week between each lesson was a time where I built up nerves, so having a lesson a day really helped me as there wasn’t time to be nervous as everyday I was thrown into driving and learning something new. It 100% built my confidence and made me feel like I actually could pass my test. Plus my instructor was incredible and really helped my confidence too, as he taught in a way that really worked with my personality and learning style.
My first test was on the Friday of the 2 week course. I was understandably super nervous but my test was at a good time and I did feel as prepared as I could be, I was just nervous about the unknown. Unfortunately I failed, as even though my actual driving was pretty good and I barely picked up any minors, a stupid mistake meant I received a major and failed. I knew as soon as I did it that I had failed, but it didn’t make me any less disappointed. I am someone that really takes failure to heart, so failing my driving test really knocked my confidence. It took me a couple of days to get over it, but overall I think that it was for the best as it meant I could have more driving practice with my instructor and learn from my mistakes… even though it didn’t feel like it at the time!
I then booked in for my new test, which was 3 weeks later because of my uni exams around the same time. In that time, I also had 5 more hours of lessons which I think were really useful. Although the nerves built again and I think I was even more nervous for the second test, because I knew I really wanted to pass and didn’t want my confidence knocking even more than it already had with the first test. When I started my test I couldn’t push my clutch down enough because my foot was shaking too much. I was so scared! I drove horrendously, and picked up so many more minors compared to the first time but still passed because I didn’t make any big mistakes. That goes to show that if you think you have driven badly, you might still have passed and to not give up halfway through your driving test.
So yeah… I passed! I was so obviously so happy but it didn’t really feel real, until I got in the car on my own. I have a little Citroen C1 (called Percy, and I have had him nearly 2 years!) and being able to get in the car and go driving on my own for the first time was SO SCARY. Like I’m not joking, I was even more scared to drive on my own than I was doing my test. However, when I got going and got driving it was one of the best 20 minutes of my life. I was so proud of myself and just being able to drive on my own was amazing. That evening I drove to the nearest town and collected a takeaway just because I could!
In the first week since passing my test, I really pushed myself and drove so much to build up my confidence and ease my driving nerves. My car is a lot different to my instructors, so having plenty of time to practice my driving on my own was so useful and made me feel a lot more confident. Each car is so different, so practising as much as you can in your own car will help to get used to it (and avoid stalling!). I would definitely recommend it if you are a nervous driver, as getting used to your car and building confidence on your own will make you a much better driver I’m sure.
One of my biggest tips is, if you are still nervous once you have passed, I would recommend doing a long journey with someone but you do the driving. I drove to York (nearest city to me) but I was so nervous beforehand, because it was busy and something I knew I definitely didn’t want to do on my own. So instead I compromised and I drove, but with my boyfriend in the car. He drives himself, so was able to help me with what lane I need to be in etc, but I could still do all of the driving and build my confidence in a way where I wasn’t under as much pressure. I think I will do that once more before I feel confident enough to do it on my own, but its definitely a good stepping stone to make me feel better about doing long and busy driving on my own.
I would also recommend that, even when you pass, ask for help. Its easy to think that because you have passed your test, you are unstoppable when it comes to driving but realistically there will be some things that you are not confident on. Rather than risking it, ask for help! I sometimes struggle with turning my car around in tight spaces, so more often than not I will ask for help and for someone to sit in my car and instruct me on what to do, even though I have passed. As time goes on, my confidence will be built I’m sure.
I feel like this post was so long (it is quite a long story) but I hope that it has helped some of you that might be learning to drive, or will be learning to drive soon. Don’t give up (I felt like giving up so many times) as when you pass it is definitely worth it for all of the freedom you will have when driving. You got this! As always thank you so much for reading this, and I hope that it has been helpful in some way.