The nightmare called driver’s license

Ferrari_F430_Scuderia_in_2012I decided to get a bit more personal today and write about the nightmare that has been tormenting me for the past seven years. A driver’s license.

I know it sounds crazy, but bear with me, please. Back in the wonderful year of 2008, when I turned eighteen, my Mom started pestering me about getting my driver’s license (you need to be eighteen in Belgium to get a license). So I studied for the theory exam, passed and started practicing.

It wasn’t too bad. We had some hiccups at the start with changing gears and such, but I could drive fairly well (and with that, I mean I was okay to be on the road, except not on my own yet) in a few months. Then I took some classes.

Which is frankly the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. I took twenty hours of driving lessons because Mom wanted me to be able to drive on my own (which I could, after those twenty hours, then you’re allowed to). But I wasn’t ready. I was at university, doing my first year which was quite tough and studying took up most of the time. So during the summer holiday, I took those driving classes, got my license to drive on my own…and then went back to university. I spent five days a week on campus, with no opportunity to drive. During the weekends, I was at home, but two days isn’t a lot of time to a) visit your family and b) study, c) see your friends and d) practice driving.

Those twenty hours? I think they were wasted. They cost about $1000 if not more, and it was totally wasted. If I’d just kept on driving, and my Mom had kept sitting next to me (like you have to with the regular practice license) I would’ve had the same result in the end.

Anyway, it’s all on me, of course. I should’ve made time to drive. But quite frankly, when you spend most your time on a campus, the need for a driver’s license just doesn’t seem so pressing.

I was pushed into doing my exam, although I didn’t want to. I knew I wasn’t ready. Long story short, turns out I wasn’t, and that exam turned out quite traumatizing for me. I didn’t do that much wrong, just didn’t see a speed limit sign, but still, all the stress leading up to that…afterward, I didn’t feel like driving for a long time.

Then, my driver’s license expired. I had to get a new one. Which meant, re-doing the theory exam (ugh), and then starting from scratch. Mom would have to sit next to me again because I would be back to the regular practice license. It took a few months, until summer, before I did the theory exam again. Then I started driving again. Of course by now I knew how to drive, but I still needed practice to get all the details right.

I hated driving. Not the act itself, but because it had taken so much trouble already. Mom complained just about every day about how I needed to make time to drive. But juggling work, university, life in general and finding time to drive wasn’t easy. On top of that, driving to the nearest city where I could actually practice (small towns aren’t so equipped for that) took about an hour already, so every time I went practicing, it took at least three to four hours.

This summer, I wanted to get serious about driving, but with renovating a house on top of all the things I had going on, it just wasn’t possible. My Mom wanted me to just go ahead and do the exam, confident I’d pass because I knew how to drive. But I didn’t want to. I was scared there would be a repeat of last time. So I kept putting it off.

Then December came around. The house was renovated, my boyfriend and I had moved in together (about time), and things were calming down. Early December, Mom got mad at me, again, for the millionth time because of my driver’s license. I was twenty-five years old, for God’s sake. I should have a driver’s license.

I went home and made a decision. All right, time to face my fears. That driver’s license was mine. But first, I was going to practice. So I did. I practiced about every other evening, and I took a driver’s class because I wouldn’t be driving with my own car on the exam, and I wanted to know how the mechanics of the other car. I set a date – December 30 – and I went for it.

Forty minutes later, I had passed. I had my driver’s license.

In the end, I’m glad I pushed through, and I’m so relieved to have my license now. Not because I really wanted it – although I did want it six months from now, when I need it for work – but because finally no one can bother me about it anymore. No one can nag to me abou not having my license. And that’s why I eventually got over my fears. But I wish things had gone differently. I wish that instead of nagging, people would have left me alone. Let me figure it out by mself. Because that’s just the kind of person I am – I didn’t mention doing the exam to anyone. I just went ahead with it. And if they hadn’t made such a big deal about the driver’s license in the first place, I would’ve done it a lot sooner, and I would’ve been a lot less stressed.

I’ve had some stressful experiences over the years, and with university exams every semester, I’m used to a certain amount of stress. But this? What I felt for months, maybe even years, due to this stupid driver’s license? That beats all stress I’ve ever had over university, times four.

Looking back on it, I would’ve done things differently – if the choice had been up to me. Either I would’ve really went for it when I was eighteen, but not with those classes, just kept on driving with Mom, kept on practising, spend every spare minute on it and race toward my exam, hoping to get it in a few months. Or, the more likely option, I would’ve waited until university was over or, like now, I’m accustomed to the life of a student enough that I do have spare time, and that I do have time to drive, and then gone for it.

Either way, I’m glad this whole ordeal is over. Getting your driver’s license should be a good thing, something to be happy about. I’m not sure I’m happy. More like relieved. Relieved this nightmare is over.

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