A life lesson learnt from failing my first driving test
The real reason why I failed my restricted driving test did not really sink in until at least three to four years later.
My mother had made me plan a good six months in advanced for the test. She made me go out with my dad at 5am in the morning, every morning, to run through the possible routes the test could go.
In short, by the end of the 6 months, I knew every curve, swerve and corner except one.
My parents are what you can describe as overly conservative, plan ahead enthusiasts. My mother does not do well in situations that requires spontaneity, creative thinking and on-the-fly decision making. Everything had to be researched and thought through, right down to the minute details.
Growing up, I had become accustomed to their over protective ways. Little did they know that they stunted my preparation for the real world.
The one road my dad refused to take me down became the one road the driving instructor decided I should get tested on.
I’ve only went down the road once and got a major scolding from my father. The speed limit was 80 kph (50 mph) — the fastest I’ve ever been.
The driving test ended after 20 minutes. There were large strikes on the testing sheet. The instructor looked at me as I explained to him how my parents always made me drive below the speed limit, their fears of an accident and how I’ve never been allowed to go down roads they didn’t know.
They made me afraid although I wanted very much to be brave.
And that was the nail in the coffin.
“I’m failing you because you lack confidence” he told me.
I didn’t hear much of what he said next, only that I failed.
“Unconfident drivers don’t make definite decisions and that’s when accidents happen. You are the one driving so you should be making your own decisions, not your parents.”
It didn’t matter to him that I had been waking up at 5am every morning for the past six months, or that I would get another month or two worth of lectures about how I’m not ready for the road from my parents — I failed because I lacked the confidence to make my own choices.
Fast forward 7 years later.
It’s been 4 years since I’ve moved out from my parents house. During that time I didn’t speak to them for a good two and a half years.
The failed driving test often played in my mind.
Throughout my childhood, teenage years and beginning of my twenties, I hesitated a lot. Not because I didn’t know what I wanted but because I was afraid.
While I waited for myself to make a concrete decision based on what my parents thought, opportunities would pass by. I missed exits and turning points because I was afraid to merge into another lane. I dismissed my gut feelings and refused to take alternative routes because it wasn’t part of the original prescribed and approved plan.
I grew up and lived my life based on the plan my parents had written for me, afraid to make my own in case it failed. And if it did, I wouldn’t have anyone to blame but myself.
After I moved out, I quickly discovered that living life is like driving a car. Whilst under my parent’s roof, I allowed them to be backseat drivers in every aspect of my life. In a way, it removed my sense of responsibility for the choices that I ultimately made.
It’s easier to blame someone else than yourself when things go wrong.
My world changed when I learnt to start making decisions for myself. Sometimes it went well, other times it fell to pieces miserably. But each time I made a decision, I consciously tell myself that this is my choice.
The more choices I made, the more resilient I became towards failure and the more confident I became in my own abilities to chose the right thing for me.
When I started to collect achievements and failures I created for myself, the instructor’s words started to make sense.
As the driver, I have control of the moving car at all times. I am the one that ultimately makes all the decisions and it can be more dangerous to hand over the steering wheel to someone else whilst you’re still in the driver’s seat.
It’s easier to have a scapegoat to blame when things go wrong, but even worse when you let your life go by and then blame someone else for it.