It goes without saying that lessons don’t end when we graduate. Everyone may go in different directions but there’s still so much to learn after school. It’s (usually) up to you what new skills you gain. Right now? I’m learning how to drive!
Here in Ireland, we can start learning how to drive at the age of seventeen. I enthusiastically did my theory test almost as soon as I was allowed and got (what was then known as) a Provisional Licence. Later I did maybe six months of nerve-wracking and half-hearted practice before going off to college. While I was living the student life; the crazy cost of insurance and being away from my hometown meant putting driving on the back burner. I’ve since graduated and when I turned twenty-five earlier this year, I decided it was time to finally get back behind the wheel!
I saved up all my pennies (well, a bit more that that); sorted out (what is now called) a Learner Permit (I still refer to it as a Provisional); and during the summer, I got insured on my father’s car (thanks dad!).
I spent the first eight to ten weeks just practicing all the basics. We found the quietest little road and I would just drive up and down, up and down, up and down…! Even though I’d already had a dozen lessons with a professional instructor, I’d pretty much forgotten all that (college must have shoved those details right out of my head!) so everything felt new again.
I’ll admit it took me a little while to get used to clutch control, changing gears, checking mirrors and all the rest. It can be a bit frustrating especially as it looks so effortless when someone else is doing it! In reality, it takes (at least with me anyway) serious concentration and practice to grasp each step and put them all together.
Some time last month, when he was totally sure that I had put in enough practice (and knew how to brake!), dad decided I was ready to go out on a “proper” road. We’ve now moved on to somewhere bigger and busier complete with roundabouts (ooh!) and that’s where I am now. I’ll probably spend another couple of weeks there before moving to the next stage (built-up areas…but I don’t want to think about that yet!).
As a learner, I can say with confidence than when you first start out, driving can be absolutely terrifying. It can be stressful and even overwhelming. I’ve already had a few drivers cut me off, dangerously overtake and even beep at me (I’m assuming this is a coincidence but in all cases, these were female drivers — what the hell, ladies?!)
However, as an optimist, I can also say that I know it’ll get better. It’s just about gaining enough confidence and experience on the road and in different situations (right?!). I can’t wait for the day when I have my full licence and a car of my own. It’ll feel like such an achievement and will definitely be worth all the effort… (ROAD TRIPS!)