The biggest step someone can take, aside from buying their first house or having a child – is passing their driving test – right? I had no idea how big of a deal this was for me until I recently passed, and thought I had got it all wrong. The worry and the stress of getting my test done has all been worth it, but I didn’t get there without a few bumps in the road (pun intended). So before you get caught up laughing at my horrendous photo, let me start at the beginning, and let you know how I managed to make my way to that magic pass.
The nerves of my driving test
Surprisingly, I wasn’t as nervous before the test as I thought I would be. I think the nerves came and went around a week before, and after that, I was just excited and eager to pass. I had my own car, and God was I excited to take it for a spin on my own. Don’t get me wrong, having the private practice with my dad in the passenger seat was fun (and I think definitely helped me ultimately pass) but I was so eager to have the freedom to hop in my car and go for a spin whenever I felt like it, and not have to fit around his schedule to. Having my own car and private practice was the real MVP in my driving journey. My little black box has become my best friend because I was so eager to see how I was doing when I was driving, I would check it after every single journey and still do. Most people say you learn to drive after you pass, so I’m still cautious to make sure I’m not picking up any silly driving habits.
Advice for passing
Whenever anyone would give me advice, I tried my best to take it on board and remember, but the biggest thing that got me through was thinking to myself ‘I can do this, I can drive!’ My driving instructor told me it was like I was giving someone a lift, but they were telling me the way to go. Whilst it resonated slightly, I think if my friend asked me for a lift and then got me to perform manoeuvres and pull up on the left in a safe, legal and convenient space – I’d tell them to get the bus! But I got the idea, and it did help in some way.
I’m the type of person that works well under pressure, so I used this to my advantage. I planned out things I needed to do straight after I’d passed the test that I couldn’t do before. I offered people lifts, organised shopping trips and generally made plans in advance of passing. Now I know this won’t work for everyone, and it added a lot more pressure onto myself because I knew people were relying on me, but I believe this fire helped me to keep focused and calm during the test. I had to pass – I didn’t have a choice!
The driving test itself
I was feeling calm, or as calm as I could be. The sun was shining, the lesson beforehand had gone well and I was ready to take the test! When the test began, my examiner placed the sat nav in the car and got it loaded up, so I knew I’d be following that at some point. Bonus – I’m terrible with directions, so I knew this would really help. My confidence in the test lasted for all of 2 minutes before I thought I had ruined my chances of passing the first time.
My examiner asked me to pull up on the left when safe, as I had done so many times before. Not a problem – I checked my mirrors, and pulled in. I then hit the car straight up the curb! Mortified doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt in that moment. In all of my driving lessons and private practice, one thing I could say was that I’d never hit the curb, and I did so on the moment it meant the most. I honestly felt so angry with myself, because I thought this had completely ruined any chance I had on passing, nice work Chloe! After hitting the curb, seeing my examiner bob around the car, and then sitting there in a silent disappointment, she asked me to continue. As much as I wanted to cry and throw myself out of the car like a stroppy 2-year-old, I felt nothing else could go wrong. I’d paid for this test and the use of my instructor’s car, so my mindset was ‘just go for a drive, why not’.
The rest of the test went smoothly. I followed the sat nav with ease, and performed the ‘pull up on the right and reverse’ manoeuvre, which was the one I was most confident with. We got back to the test centre and I knew the dreaded result was coming my way.
I passed my driving test!?
My instructor hopped in the car as I wanted him there for the debriefing, mainly so he could establish where it all went horribly wrong and so we both knew what I had to work on going forward.
“Congratulations Chloe, you’ve passed!”
I’m sorry – what!? I PASSED!? The feeling of relief mixed with slight confusion on how I’d managed it almost blocked out anything my examiner was saying, but I tried my best to listen. Whilst the literal bump in the road wasn’t unnoticed (how could it have been, it looked like her head was going to fall off of her shoulders) my examiner knew that I had pulled it back, and I think she could tell I was shocked that I’d made this silly mistake, and how it wasn’t a regular occurrence for me. My confidence excelled after that because I knew there wasn’t much else that could go wrong. Overall I got 3 minors – happy days!
The freedom of driving
Knowing that I can hop in my car and go anywhere I want to, whenever I want to, is such a great feeling and one that I struggle to put into words. Granted, the most I’ve really driven since passing is to and from work, but that’s what adults do – right? I’ll be planning out road trips for the summer, and continue to build up my confidence behind the wheel, because I have the freedom to wherever I want too. Good work Chloe, if I do say so myself!