A car is just a thing, a means to an end. It is a money pit, a dangerous machine.
A car is freedom and independence.
The latter is all I care about. I am twenty-eight and had my first driving lesson at age nineteen. One by one all my friends started their engines. I got the bus.
Failing your first driving test is ok. I for one was certainly not ready and it was right that I failed. Failing the second time is disappointing, but again you realise that there is room for improvement. You want to keep going and try again.
But failing your fifth or sixth driving test on one unlucky mistake is demoralising. It is depressing. You go home and stare at the test report. Why can’t I break through? It is incredibly frustrating, and you want to give up. Giving up is so easy.
So you do, in a way. For a while at least. After a year or two you build up the nerve to have more driving lessons and do it again. Each time it’s a pain, it’s tiring and frustrating, the whole thing doesn’t feel fair. It feels ridiculous.
In some ways it makes you feel like a child, when you already feel like that most of the time. Imposter syndrome rears its ugly head and you feel small and silly asking your parents and partner for lifts. You desperately want to feel like a ‘real adult’ and this is a hurdle you can’t seem to get over. When will it happen for me?
But life does change. Now you live in Oxford with the best guy you’ve ever met, and you are starting to feel a little older, in a good way. You have a good job, finally, and you are feeling better. But of course there are still things in life that you want. There are a handful of things that, if you ever get them, you know they will fill a gap in your heart. It sounds silly, but driving is one of them. It has become a symbol.
Finally, a friendly and supportive driving instructor; productive lessons. You have learned to be a positive person, and you are no longer so quick to quit. You have become determined.
A test – a failure. But you don’t feel heartbroken like before; you think, ok, well, not great, but I know I can do it. Self-belief is actually there. So you do it again. And you pass.
Overwhelmed doesn’t quite describe it. There are so many feelings and thoughts all at once and your heart beats hard for days and nights afterwards. Is this real? Are they sure? Surely this isn’t quite what it seems. This can’t be it.
But there it is. The car that’s yours. Yours. It’s real. No one is going to take it away. It’s yours and you are that person who goes where they want, when they want. Life goes on, but it is just a little bit better. You feel like you’ve ticked a box, achieved something, moved forward. A new leaf.
More things seem possible. Yes, I will wear that skirt I’m usually too scared to wear. Yes, I will be more assertive. Yes, I will be more organised and productive. Yes, I will work harder. Yes, I will be positive every day. Because every day can be better than the last.