I have a confession to make: I turn twenty yeas old this year and I still do not know how to drive. It seems to be everyone’s dream that the day they turn 16 they go to the DMV, take their road test, and receive their brand new driver’s license. It’s a rite of passage that so many teenagers look forward to, but it is a source of necessary evil in my life. I took Driver’s Education as a sophomore in high school, but the experience was not very beneficial for me. In fact, I think it made me dislike the idea of driving even more! As I’ve researched more into personality types, it turns out that people with my specific personality type do not like being taught new things in the presence of others. Instead, we prefer to work one-on-one with an expert in the field we are studying or learning how to do things on our own. Since the law doesn’t exactly let people figure out how to drive on their own, I was stuck in a silver Impala with “STUDENT DRIVER” plastered on every side and two other students in the car with me. I wasn’t particularly bad at maneuvering a car, but I was incredibly nervous being critiqued in front of my classmates. Doing well at school was what I did, but Driver’s Education did not follow suit with the rest of my courses.
Before we started driving with our instructor, for the first week or so of class was spent watching educational films about the rules of the road. One film in particular, Red Asphalt, still stands out to me today: it describes the likely fatal consequences of driving while impaired, not wearing a seat belt, or just driving while distracted. Wikipedia describes the Red Asphalt series as being “known for their graphic depictions of fatal car accidents” and being exceedingly gruesome. The film at first did not bother me, but once I was actually on the road in that class I remembered its grotesque, yet powerful message. The possibility of being involved in a fatal car accident had been on my mind for quite some time already, but I figured that once I became old enough to actually get a license it would no longer consume my thoughts and I would be excited to go on the road. Instead of making me feel prepared and excited to get my license the day I turned sixteen, that class deepened my already growing uncertainty about the situation.
A lot of things that scare others do not phase me; instead of avoiding certain things or activities, I welcome the opportunity to experience them. Here’s just a few examples:
- Scary movies? As long as the movies are not centered around the dangers of driving like Red Asphalt was, he creepier and gorier the better. I am always trying to look for the newest, scariest movie to watch. I can’t get enough of them!
- Needles? They don’t phase me. I am a huge advocate for donating blood, and I have donated twice so far. I plan to donate more in the future since I enjoyed the process so much!
- Public speaking? I nailed that back when I participated in BRURC this March. I’m still not completely comfortable with it, but with enough preparation I feel like I could do it all again.
I guess my fear of driving is just like every other fear people face every day- it just poses much more of a problem and is not so easily understood by those who do not share my fear. People who fear needles and speaking in public try to avoid situations in which they would experience anything that provoked their fears and people who are afraid of scary movies simply do not watch them. Since these fears are so common, chances are that you can find someone who shares your anxieties. Especially since the fear of public speaking is more prevalent than the fear of death, there is a possibility you will find yourself in good, understanding company.
I often don’t feel normal compared to everyone else around me- I fear one of the most exciting milestones of any teenagers life. My fear of driving is not easily understood- in fact, I am often ostracized by fearing driving. I’m often told that one day I will snap out of it, that I will soon come to my senses, that everyone must drive sometime. I know that one day I will need to get over my anxiety enough to successfully and safely commute from place to place, but that does not lessen my fears any. Everyday, it seems, there is another fatal wreck on the news. My hear sinks a little deeper each time I hear of those news reports. I start thinking about how that could have been someone I love in that wreck, or how it could have been myself instead. It’s a dark way to think, but I think that’s just who I am.
I am slowly but surely warming up to the idea of getting behind the wheel. By growing up around teachers, I have other “parents” who can teach me how to drive and who are natural instructors. Many of them have taught multiple teenagers how to drive, so I have faith in my ability to learn from them, too.
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