I live in Lagos, and I recently just learned how to drive. As a young adult, my dad never taught me how to drive; He loved his car too much; Although, I was neither eager nor enthusiastic to learn. The reason? Apart from a crippling fear of busy highways, my sense of direction is quite disgraceful. So I thought, “Why bother?”
Sometime around June last year, my boss, during one of our conversations, discovered I was unable to drive. She thought it was ridiculous that at my age and with my education, I had no driving skills; I simply lacked basic knowledge about driving. Consequently, she instructed one the office drivers to teach me how to drive, after work hours. She’s cool like that.
Naturally, I was eager to begin my driving lessons. I spoke with my instructor (the driver); and like most people, he offered the popular “fun fact”: that driving is easy and that anyone, anyone can drive. He made a comparison between learning to ride a bicycle and learning to drive a car; he said the former was harder. With this in my mind, I was all set to acquire some driving skills in easy breezy steps. Boy, I had no idea what I was up for. Simply put, it wasn’t as easy as I imagined or like I was made to understand. I did learn how to drive, but it was a process that had a lot to teach me, even about life, and that’s what I’m sharing in this article.
Mistakes are inevitable and one of life’s biggest teachers.
My first day of practice had me feeling so embarrassed afterwards. Anyone who’s learned to drive a car (especially a manual transmission) knows you’ll make several beginners’ mistakes- you’ll stall the car an embarrassing amount of time, step hard on the pedals, and if you’re unfortunate, bash into something. The ability to start a car and move smoothly happens very much later. I had a hard time learning how to steer properly. I was over doing it, and it was merely laughable. So here’s what I gathered: Sometimes in life, we don’t learn something, (a skill, whatever it is) without getting it wrong at least once. If mistakes don’t teach us anything, they at least teach us how not to do something. They sometimes humble us and cause us to seek better, productive ways to do things. Who doesn’t love that feeling of getting something right after several failed trials? Sometimes, we learn more when we stay open to mistakes. It’s a crucial part of the whole life experience, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes or be embarrassed to admit to them.
Courage is taking action in spite of fear.
One lesson I got from learning to drive is this: courage and even confidence is sometimes more important than skill. Courage is a fundamental trait in learning how to drive. You could be a very good driver, but if you’re terrified of driving, your skill will be useless. I became increasingly better after practicing off the road. But when it was time hit the road, it was a different story. I swerved too hard at the first sight of an on-coming vehicle. I kept veering off the road because I was subconsciously worried about getting hit or hitting someone. There were times I was tempted to park the car, hand the keys to my instructor and give up. But he wasn’t having any of that. He made me drive in spite of my fears. One thing I heard a lot from people that turned how to be true was this: learning to drive and sticking to it is mostly a matter of courage. Like they said, “You need to get mind, if you get mind e no go hard you.” They were right. Our fears have a way of crippling us, but most times it’s just all in our head. Choosing to act in spite of our fears is one of the best decisions we can constantly make in life. Most of the things we want are on the other side of fear; if only we’ll be courageous and go for it.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again
Learning how to drive (especially a car with a manual transmission) feels impossibly difficult at first, but with practice you’d get better; not necessarily perfect, but little progress that’ll add up over time. If you fail at anything today, don’t beat yourself up or be discouraged. Try again tomorrow and keep trying. With driving (and most things you’ll embark on in life), you’ll get better with practice and/or commitment. I remember feeling like I wasn’t designed for driving and thinking that manual transmission cars are just torture. But I persevered, and learned what I needed to. Don’t give up on anything that’s important to you or anything you care about.
There’ll be hecklers in the form of impatient drivers, and the pesky okada men who drive like they have a death wish. Drivers and patience can’t exist in the same sentence (except for this one.) Like people who may discourage us with their words, they’ll cuss you out because they choose not to be patient or supportive. They’ll clearly see your learner sign and honk like crazy. Don’t let such people distract you or get you more worked up than you already are. Let them wait. They were once learners like you. However, there’ll be good people who’ll encourage you and even help you when you’re stuck. Let their little kindness teach and inspire you to be empathic and patient for when you come across a driver who is learning.
Not two people will have the exact same experience in life
If you’ve learned how to drive, you might have been told that you’ll be an expert in two weeks, one month max. If that was the case for you, well, mazeltov! That wasn’t the case for me. It took me way longer to learn how to drive than I’m willing to admit. I found it hard to pay attention to a lot of details at the same time. I’m very forgetful, so I did things like forgetting to move into first gear when I brake to a stop. I occasionally forgot to use my mirrors, and I sometimes turn the steering wheel the wrong way when driving in reverse. If you’re like me, you turned out fine, I hope. Life’s journey will go at a difference pace for everybody, so try not to compare yourself with others. It’s not a race to the finish line. Be patient, go at your own pace, stay in your seat and keep to your lane. Don’t worry about how others did or what they say.
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