The first six months of driving: fears, problems and independence
I've actually been driving for a little over six months now (since July last year), and it's been an absolute whirlwind of excitement and deep belly-clutching anxiety. As a 24 year old, I was an older learner, but I'm glad I waited in a way, and not just because my first round of insurance wasn't as painful as expected!
The first time driving as a fully qualified driver
I won't lie, the thought of me being the only person in the car with pedals able to stop a crash was a little petrifying, but now I'd be raging if someone else had them too.
The first time driving alone
This is something I never thought I'd get used to but I love it. My first solo trip was a five minute journey to the local Morrisons (this girl loves a foodshop) and I felt so bloody proud of myself. I'd faced my fears, there was no one to tell me if I was doing something wrong, and it gave me a fab insight into a more independent future.
The first time on a motorway
We live in a fairly rural area, so one night my boyfriend took me on a practice motorway run: we hopped on at one junction drove to the next one and came back off. It was hella scary, but I'd much rather have done this than launched straight into a long motorway journey as my first experience. You can get extra lessons on the motorway after you pass your test but I just really didn't want to spend any more money on lessons!
The first long journey
A fortnight or so after starting to drive, we took a trip down to Devon and I drove for the second half of the journey. This meant a mixture of big motorways and country roads and it was all hella stressful. The route to where we were staying took us down some tiny only-room-for-one-car-if-that roads that let people go both ways down in the pitch black. At this point I was still stalling all the time whilst learning how to use a completely different clutch. It was pretty hellish but now I can think that no journey is going to be worse than that one. I hope.
The first time I felt comfortable driving
It's no secret that I struggle a lot with my anxiety, and driving at first created a claw of fear in my belly every time I thought about stepping into the vehicle. I'd say it was after four or so months that this eased off and there are definitely still some things that make me sweaty and scared (getting lost, having to squeeze into a tight spot, having to do a hill start), but my 'usual' trips don't make me anxious at all anymore.
The first time I bumped into something
My spatial awareness isn't great even when I'm only in charge of my own body, let alone a car, and if I'm honest, there's definitely some king of higher being that's been guiding me away from problems. A couple of months ago I got too close to the centre of a roundabout and hit it. Thankfully I was going quite slowly and bumped off without doing any damage to the car but wow my heart was in my mouth the whole way home until I could check that the car wasn't hurt (the roundabout wasn't either - I'm not a monster).
I've still got a few firsts to go: my first long journey alone, my first time parking in a multi-storey (I'm still not great on hill starts so wow I've been avoiding this), and I have yet to drive a full car of people around. But the next six months has got to see me tackle these.