Today I’m talking about my experience about not passing my driving test the first time and about the enormous amount of pressure that we seem to be under when it comes to that all important result.
When you make the decision to learn to drive, it’s quite a dramatic life decision but you might not even think it. It’s a huge piece of your independence that you can gain; even if you can’t afford a car, you still have the skills and knowledge of knowing how to drive a car which can even help you with your career.
I passed my test a few months before my twenty second birthday so a lot of people would see that as quite late to learn how to drive because most people tend to do it as they turn seventeen or eighteen. At that age though, I had zero interest in learning how to drive but once I came back from University, I suddenly became interested.
(This was me when I passed my test! I look so different.)
I didn’t pass my practical test first time round and I would never pretend I did. I can’t remember the exact number of times, I think it was five. Does that mean I’m a bad driver? Absolutely not and I will fully admit that I have had a car accident that was my fault. It was in my second year of driving but it still doesn’t make me a bad driver and it has taken me quite a while to accept that accidents do happen and it doesn’t make me a bad person. For those wondering, it wasn’t a serious accident; it only involved one other person and they were genuinely lovely about it happening meanwhile I was in floods of tears. I had to immediately drive from the scene and I was driving most of the day after it had happened but that was a blessing in disguise; I wasn’t put off from driving and I think if I had have walked away from the wheel, it would have taken me a while to get back into the driver seat again.
There seems to be a stigma around not passing your test first time and even a few years later, it still gets to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy for anyone who gets their driving license because it’s such a huge achievement but I definitely think there is that stigma especially when it’s pointed out, “I passed my driving test and I done it first time!” Sometimes it feels like because we’re not in that “first time group”, we’re not as good as someone who is, and believe me, even four years later, I still struggle with it.
So for those reading this who have had a similar experience to me or who are starting to learn to drive, here’s the four most important things I learned from my experience and what I would tell my younger self.
1) It’s not the end of the world.
There were A LOT of tears from me. I felt really sorry for my instructor, she mustn’t have known what to do with a crying woman in her car quite a few times. It really isn’t the end of the world, something which took me some time to realise. I had the luxury of being able to take the test a few weeks later but I understand that finances can vary for others. In that case, some time away from the wheel to take the pressure off might help.
2) It doesn’t mean you’re a bad driver.
Unfortunately when you first start revising for your theory exam, you start to hear stories of booking your practical exam. You shouldn’t book it for the end of the month or you should book it for a specific time. You hear the stories of examiners having a quota each month so they can’t pass everyone so even if you were a good driver, they might not be able to pass you before of this. Are these type of stories true? I really don’t know. My point is that your instructor wouldn’t tell you to book your test if they didn’t think you were a good driver and for whatever reason, you didn’t pass, but that just means you can take some time either to yourself or with your instructor for some self-reflection (based on the instructors points system).
3) You’re no less of a driver if you takes you more than once.
This is the most important point of my four points. If you passed on your first try, congratulations! If it’s your tenth test, my congratulations mean no less. It’s such a lovely feeling passing your test and just because you didn’t do it first time, it doesn’t make you any less of a driver because of it. You still know how to use the clutch, you still know how to work the gears and you still knows how to do the manoeuvres regardless.
4) Don’t let anyone make you feel bad.
Anyone who tries to make you feel bad for not getting it first time, I call them toxic people and you don’t need them in your life. What you can do though is one very important thing; they can try to make you feel bad, but quite frankly, don’t let them. They weren’t there on the day, they weren’t feeling how you felt on that particular day, they aren’t you and this is your experience and your experience only. I’d feel bad for them that they have nothing better to do with their time that try and bring you down.
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It’s important to remember that no matter how many times it takes you to pass your test, you did it! Whether that’s the first time, second time, third time or as many times as you need to; we all go at different paces and that doesn’t mean that you aren’t as good as someone else. Don’t let anyone put you down for trying your best!