Posted by: kerryalina | 8 May 2012

Zoom Zoom

I sat my licence test today.  No, I’m not 18; I’ve just been putting it off for years (and years. and years).  Because I had no time, no money.  Because I moved out of home when I was 17 and all my various family members promptly moved interstate and overseas so they couldn’t teach me.  Because I live in within walking distance of a city which also has amazing public transport and who needs a car anyway, right?

Um, no.  Not quite.  It’s all true, of course… but like I said yesterday: I’ve always been quite good at finding reasons to avoid things I don’t want to do.

And here’s why I didn’t want to get my licence: I’m not good at driving.

I’m very good at most everything that I do.  That’s not because I’m incredibly gifted at every single thing that I try.  It’s because if I’m not good at something, I avoid it like the plague.  I was a child prodigy (only a slight exaggeration, I swear) on the piano, so I kept playing and aced my final level exams.  I always found maths straightforward, so I graduated top of my class.  But I would kick a soccer ball twice and then fake an injury to get off the field.  I failed history every year of high school because I just wasn’t good at it… so, of course, there was no point studying.

If I thought I wouldn’t be able to do something, I’d immediately walk away.  I mean, either way I wouldn’t do it… but at least if I quit before the end, I could avoid the unpleasantness of actually failing.

However, my hand was forced in this case – I realised a few months ago that (unpleasant as it would be), I should probably attempt to get my licence before the roadtrip to Burning Man.  You know, just in case my friend broke her leg in the desert or something.  And by the time I’d learnt that she’d pulled out, it was too late – the lessons were paid for, the test was booked.  I figured I might as well go through with it.

******************************

So.  My driving test was today.  Now, I’m not the world’s best driver – I’m a little too slow and a little too scared of other cars.  But if I’m overly cautious then at least I’m safe.  And if I’m nervous around cars then at least I’m paying attention to other drivers.  So I was cautiously optimistic going into the test.

Until, that is, I tried to parallel park.  It was awful.  I reversed in too fast.  I panicked.  I didn’t turn the wheel enough.  The unthinkable happened: I hit the kerb.  I tried, desperately, to salvage the situation and then I sat there, struggling to hold back tears, knowing that I must have failed.

All I wanted to do was go back to the drive test centre.  I was praying that would be the next instruction out of his mouth.  Instead, he sat there for five minutes, making notes and tallying marks.

“Drive on,” he said eventually.

I drove on.  I was fuming.  I’d already failed, damn it – surely he wasn’t going to humiliate me by making me complete the rest of the test?  My confidence was shot: I botched my headchecks, I nearly stalled countless times, I misheard an instruction to take the next right and had to slam on the brakes and do a hash job of a U-turn to get back on track.  With every mistake, I sank deeper and deeper into anger and frustration.  All I wanted to do was concede defeat before I made even more of a fool of myself.  I was on edge, waiting (hoping) for the instruction to head  back to the test centre, the acknowledgement that I’d failed.  I was already planning how I would tell my friends and family that I hadn’t passed and wouldn’t be re-sitting the test.

And then, right when my fury was at its highest pitch, just as I was pleading with the universe to please make this stop and railing against the licence tester’s sadistic efforts to prolong my humiliation… I was suddenly, weirdly, calm.  And then phrases I’d heard many, many times filled my mind.

“Stay in the room and finish the class.  Don’t compare yourself to others, don’t compare today to yesterday, just do the best that you can do in this moment.  It doesn’t matter how much you can do, as long as you try the right way.  Don’t hold on to mistakes; acknowledge them and move on.  Focus.  Breathe.”

So I did.

AND OMG I PASSED.  Just by the teeny tiniest of margins (and the fact that I actually managed to get a licence with my execrable driving today has kind of destroyed my faith in the system), but I PASSED!!!  And if I’d continued on my downward spiral into negativity; if I’d given up… then it never would have happened.

Bikram has taught me many, many things.  But one of the most important things I’ve learnt is how to really, really suck at something… and do it anyway.  Sometimes it turns out so much better than you might think :)

*******************************

(Just in case any non-Aussies are wondering about the title… may I present what is possibly the catchiest car ad in the world.  It came out over ten years ago and I still get this song stuck in my head whenever I drive.  Fellow Aussies: tell me I’m not the only one???)

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Responses

  1. Zoom Zoom Zoom!!! Yeah zoom zoom zoom zoom! The commercial is in America too!! Love this post. What a good real life application!!!

    • I should never have posted that clip – that bloody song’s been stuck in my head for the last 24 hours!! I mean, I love it… but enough is enough :)

  2. Yoga has taught me the same thing!

    • I was so so so skeptical about, well, everything before I started yoga. I had already decided that it could theoretically increase strength and flexibility – maybe lift overall health levels slightly – but of course that’s all it could do. Anyone claiming differently was obviously sadly deluded.

      Now it feels like my whole blog is one big yoga advertisement: “I used to think I’d never do X, but since learning Y at Bikram, I’m able to do X after all!” It’s kind of awesome :)

  3. I’m grappling with this very lesson of allowing myself to really suck at something… and choosing do it anyway. Thank you for your post. And congrats on your driving test!

    • Thank you!! I woke up this morning thinking “…huh. I had the strangest dream.” And then I remembered it was real!! It’s almost like I’m a grown-up or something :)

  4. Congrats on getting your license!! Loved that commercial. too! I also shy away from things I think I will not do well or that frighten me. Result: too often living in a “shell”. Yoga is one way I’ve fought to break that shell and open myself up to new things. Great writing!!

  5. Congratulations on getting the licence. My daughter has the same excuses as you do but we are still here to teach her (haven’t moved interstate or overseas) and we (my husband and I) are not giving up.

  6. Oh my goodness! That song is over 10 years old? Really? I loved it too :)

    Congrats on the licence!


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