Last Wednesday, I did my first solo cross-country drive. Yeah, on the night when the weather in the South West was borderline insane because of that tornado over in Wales. It was just a forty-five minute drive in heavy rain and dark Somerset country roads, actually. I dropped the kids off at my in-laws’ house and came back to overnight there after an evening out at At the Chapel in Bruton. But, for me, it was a big deal.
On the drive back, I kept thinking (in between irrationally wondering whether there could be someone driving behind me without their lights on in the pitch black) about how amazing it is that I’m now fairly confident and comfortable about driving. It’s been nine months since I passed my test and I never thought I’d get here. In the lead up to the test, I wasn’t sure I’d ever pass it or even that I should be on the road if I did. Even after I passed, I had to grit my teeth a lot of the time and just tell myself I could make whatever journey, even if I didn’t believe it. Would I ever reach a time when I didn’t feel stressed at the start of a day, knowing that it would involve driving?
Wednesday made me realise how much I’ve relaxed, how much freedom it’s given me and how much I’ve learned – not just about driving but about other things too. It amuses people when I say this but learning to drive (and I don’t just mean passing the test; I mean the months after) has given me such a sense of capability. I now believe that I can learn new things, practical things and that my fear does not have to dictate what I can and can’t do.
That was a big part of why I knuckled down and made myself learn in the first place. In some years’ time, I didn’t want to tell the girls that I gave up trying to drive because I was scared. I want them to believe they can do stuff and do it so it makes sense that I learn to model that too. I know lots of people have good reasons for not learning but, honestly, for me, I was just chicken.
It wasn’t anything as out there and extreme as an actual phobia (a survey Benenden carried out on unusual fears covering clown phobia to fear of being without phone coverage makes for interesting reading) but it was something I needed to address in myself. It’s made me ask what else I’m avoiding doing out of fear.
Without starting to sound like I’ve watched too much Frozen (and I have – particularly since the love versus fear message is so firmly on my mind), I think I’d regret making the big and little choices in life based on fear far more than encountering any of the stuff I’m actually afraid of. I’m not sure courage is something any of us can give or take from our children but I do hope it can be modeled.
In association with Benenden