Learning how to drive is about starting even after you stall

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I’m still learning how to drive.

It seems that most teenagers anxiously waited for the birthday that let them get a learner’s permit and get on the road. I didn’t. Between carpools, public transit, and other people driving, I never needed to drive. Besides, jeepneys, buses and tricycles made driving in downtown Manila a harrowing spectacle. In Toronto, public transit can get me nearly everywhere I need to go. I’d like to stay car-free as long as possible, as I’ve seen how owning a car can be an expensive proposition.

Still, there’s no getting around the fact that driving is a useful skill, so I’m learning. It’s difficult to learn something that other people already take for granted. I feel frustrated whenever I have to do so much back and forth in parking or when I make the wrong decision when it comes to navigating. I learn so slowly!

I’m lucky that W- can put up with my mistakes patiently, and he even tells me not to be so hard on myself. It’s difficult not to berate myself for mistakes like stalling the car in the middle of the road and then grinding the starter in my panic. One of the things I’m learning from all of this is that even when I feel like a failure and all I want to do is make the stress stop, I need to relax and reset my mood if I’m going to be able to do better. I need to make an effort to switch my mental track from:

“Why can’t I get this? Teenagers pick this up quickly.”

to

“Everyone’s alive? Good. Anything else can be taken care of. Now, how can I do things better next time?”

If I don’t make that mental switch, I end up making more and more mistakes. If I do, then I might stand a chance of making it home without making W-‘s knuckles white.

One of the things that I’ve noticed is that I have a hard time navigating. We’ve passed through those roads countless times, but even when W- asks me what looks familiar, I find it hard to distinguish between the different reasons that different things look familiar. So after driving practice today, I finally looked up all of these places on Google Maps. I couldn’t figure out how they were related just driving along, because I couldn’t focus on anything aside from not getting into an accident. Seeing the map in my head might make navigation easier for me.

Learning how to drive is not fun, but I know I need to learn. The only thing to do whenever I stall is to start again. (Preferably without grinding the starter.)