This post will be a bit more personal and a bit less anime-related than usual.
I’ve put behind a battle that was various months long, with many self doubts, anxiety and negative emotions along the way.
I’m talking about driving school. It’s still a shock that I’m even able to write this, but yesterday I passed the driving test from the second attempt.
From the second attempt, just as I passed the theory segment and first aid as well.
“Nobody said it was easy…”
“…no one ever said, it would be this hard.”
This Coldplay quote can basically sum up my more than 8 month long time at driving school. I enrolled into driving school in the crazy days after I received my shocking results of the high school finals and when Croatia got through to the World Cup final. It was a time when I finished Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and started watching Hunter x Hunter. I wasn’t even thinking I would start blogging in October, nor did I know what university I’ll be in. I was still in my “old” house. That’s how much time has passed. It really feels like a different era.
The lessons themselves as well as first aid were still really the calm before the storm. Even if I passed them both from the second attempt, compared to what was gonna come next, it really wasn’t that much of a challenge.
Before enrolling into driving school, I said I think I would have a bit of a fear while driving in traffic and that I’m not considering it “urgent” to go to driving school at this stage. But my father basically insisted that I should go now, and I decided I will do it, to challenge those anxious thoughts. I wanted to believe it will go well.
New Game! Traumas
But it was nowhere near straightforward as you would wish. It was the start of September when I started the 35 mandatory driving sessions before you are eligible for the driving test.
To keep it short: it was terrible. The anxiety was well and truly there, even if I wasn’t even in traffic yet. Every mistake was followed by more of them, and the attitude of the driving instructor was really not helpful. Basically, he yelled a lot, and with the anxiety I had and the amount of errors I was making, it really wasn’t comfortable.
That night, before the second driving session the next day, I couldn’t sleep properly due to all the anxiety and negative feelings. What didn’t help matters was the rain that was falling, making me even more anxious because driving in rain was gonna make things even harder.
I think that was the most anxiety-filled night of my life. And in those moments, random New Game! openings and endings were playing in my head. And since I tend to remember such unimportant details, I’ve started associating the New Game season 2 music with those tough moments. You can probably guess I avoided listening to those openings and endings in all these months. Season 1 though was uneffected, and gives me memories of better things, because I watched Season 1 just at the end of August.
Maybe Miyamori Aoi would be a good driving instructor as she seems quite handy behind the wheel of a car…
As the driving sessions went on, there was little improvement. The anxiety was huge before every single driving hour, and although there were a few moments when it seemed things are going in the right direction, the next driving session would override that impression.
Looking back, these first 15 or so hours of driving were likely the reason I felt such a lack of confidence in my driving for all these months, and why I still had anxiety before every session, even this week too.
In December I’ve done what I should have done much earlier – change driving instructors. A new bit of hope was appearing, and after the Christmas break it was time for a fresh start.
The difference between instructors was night and day. It seemed that the new instructor actually understood that for people with anxiety, yelling and borderline insulting won’t help in any way. This new instructor was calming, and understanding that some people just need more time and a more calm approach.
Will it ever end?
It was definitely getting better. But I still wasn’t fully ready for the test. Mistakes were still a common thing. After I did the mandatory 35 driving sessions, the instructor told me to get 10 additional driving sessions. This was devastating. Not only was I tired of doing those driving sessions and trying to survive the anxiety, but each driving session required a lot more time and money than it should because in late January I kind of changed my residence. Emphasis on “kind of” but that’s a story I won’t go into now.
Will there ever be an end to it? How much more suffering do I have to endure? Why do I have to be like this?
These were the questions that I tormented myself with, especially at the start of this week current week.
When I finally had the chance to take the driving test, I failed the first one. The positive part was that the person that evaluated me told me he thinks I will “pass soon” and that my “pedal control was good”. My main error was failing to stop at the stop signs.
Failing meant you had to do 3 additional driving sessions before taking the test again. Just to make things more complicated, the instructor took a vacation and I had a substitute for those 3 extra sessions and the second exam.
I don’t remember the last time I had a week as rough as this one, excluding yesterday onwards. On Tuesday and Wednesday, when I had those extra driving sessions, it rained. And various other unlucky things have been happening during these days. I don’t feel like going into details right now but let me tell you, some of it was stuff you wouldn’t even see with the unluckiest anime characters.
Yesterday it rained too. But luckily it was only in the later stages of the test, and it wasn’t heavy enough to affect me too much. I had the final extra driving session right before the test. All of those 3 additional driving sessions were quite bad, even the one right before the test.
The examiner was the same person as the first time. Apparently, that’s a rare thing.
I was still full of visible anxiety but somehow, I made it through the test without any major errors. There were some needless things, but not enough for a failure it seems. When the examiner said “-2, Matija” I was certain that meant another failure. Then he started talking about my mistakes but he only really mentioned 2 or 3 things. After the first exam this was when he told me I can leave so it was unusual that he didn’t do so yet.
You can then imagine the pure shock and disbelief when I saw the paper in front of me that said that I passed the exam. It is something I still can’t quite believe has happened.
It’s hard to properly describe the relief that this has been. To think I never have to worry about driving school again is just so beautiful. And to think of all the doors that have now opened thanks to this… I am so happy and so relieved that I’ve finally put all of this behind.
I guess the lesson I can learn from all of this is to never give up no matter how bad it seems. In this case I really wanted to give up, even if I was already kind of at the point of no return. In case of failing the second time, I would have tried to take a break from driving for a number of months, so I would not have to think about this again.
Even on the day of the exam, it felt like I’m a lost cause and there is no way I can actually pass this. But fortunately it turned out I was wrong. Just as I thought I would fail my Croatian high school finals, just as I wasn’t sure about passing university physics… It seems every time I’m convinced in failure, it ends up the opposite way.
Moral of the story – keep facing those challenges you have. Keep fighting that s*itty anxiety. If after all the self doubting and terrible anxiety I managed to pass that driving test, you can face your own challenges too. Just instead of self-doubting, believe in yourself. Trust me, it will make things much easier.
I hope your time at driving school was easier. If you haven’t experienced driving school yet, I hope you’ll have an easier time than me…