Passing my driving test was something that had seemed impossible for a whole lot of my life. Right up until I took my first lesson, I was absolutely petrified. Learning to drive for me was filled with moments of overwhelming anxiety (I wanted to cancel every single lesson looming over me), and absolute relief when I passed and no longer had to do it. The one real problem? Now I had to drive with no one else having a brake pedal in the car.
Two months after I passed my test, I got insured on a car. Looking back, the earlier I got into that car, the better I would have been. Everybody told me this, and I totally ignored it. However, I had a few long breaks between lessons when I was learning, so this two month break didn't seem so daunting.
Since starting to drive as a fully qualified responsible adult (help), I've learnt there are definitely some things that help to soothe my driving anxiety as a new driver:
1.) Have a certain pair of shoes for driving. As soon as I put my black trainers on, I feel more prepared to get behind the wheel because I know they're safe, comfortable, and I don't have to get used to different things between my feet and the pedals each time I drive.
2.) Spend time getting ready in the car, especially if you share it. Adjust the mirrors to exactly how you want them, position your seat, and arrange your belongings (bag, phone etc) to be in a suitable place. Not rushing this means that once I've started the car, I'm absolutely ready to go.
3.) Get a passenger that you trust to come along for a ride. For the first three or four weeks of driving I never went alone. Having someone else in the car gave me the ultimate comfort of 'oh my god if I really fuck up, we can swap places' (sidenote: we did once, at a traffic light on a hill after I stalled seven times in a row. It wasn't my best moment). It also means you can ask little questions: am I in the right gear?? Do you think I have room to overtake that person? etc whilst you get used to being in the driver's seat.
4.) Have something to look forward to at the end of your journey. I'm an absolute sucker for enjoying going for a weekly food shop. My first lone outing was heading to the Morrisons ten minutes away, and I promised myself that I could buy whatever snacks I wanted once I got there. Food is a pretty good motivation for me, and I rocked this first trip.
5.) Don't completely avoid things you hate. Doing a hill start two months on from when I first started driving in an actual car still breaks me out in a sweat. I rolled backwards a little bit once and now I'm forever in a ball of 'oh my god what if I crash' anxiety. The more times I do it, the better I get at it, so now I just need to not avoid getting on to the motorway, merging and big roundabouts too because they are up there on my fear list.
6.) Remember to think about the positives. You're SO much more independent now. Want a midnight Maccies trip? Or to head to town for a mini shopping spree? Or even to visit a family member when you're feeling a little lonely? You've got the power to go where you want, when you want, and rock it.
If you have any other tips on this please let me know (I'm definitely still not 100% with driving yet, but I know I will be one day!)