Driving lessons are a pain the arse. Regardless of whether you’re a confident driver or not, they just take up time, money and butt load of motivation to get through them. It’s even harder when you suffer from anxiety. I started taking lessons when I was 18, a time when my panic attacks and anxiety was at it’s peak. It was all too much for me so I ended up giving up and didn’t go back to it until about 8 years later.Today I’m sharing with you some tips and things to think about that could help you if you’re considering taking lessons but anxiety is holding you back.
1. Find the right instructor – On my first go at taking lessons I had two different instructors. Both male, both very pushy and they just didn’t have the right teaching technique for me to get the best out of my lessons. I felt awkward and uncomfortable and they were partly what pushed me to give up. This time round I specifically asked for a female driving instructor. I had a chat with her before my lessons and found her style of teaching was a more relaxed yet professional approach – exactly what I needed!
2. Find the right place – I’ll be completely honest, I’m slightly embarassed to be taking driving lessons so late. I live in an area where I know most of my neighbours and the thought of them seeing my taking lessons or worse making a mistake filled me with dread. I decided to look into an instructor near where I worked which is on the other side of London. The roads are a little wider and I would easily be able to be picked up from work. So I did just that. Now I take lessons after work and feel it really works for me.
3. Honesty about anxiety – You don’t need to tell your instructor that you suffer from anxiety but sometimes it can help. I was absolutely petrified to get into the car for the first few lessons but I didn’t want to explain for fear of being judged or treated differently. After I felt a little more confident in the car I eventually told my instructor about how anxious I was and she said she would have never known. I also think it’s important that if your panic attacks are quite bad that it’s only fair (for both of you) that you let them know the best way to handle the situation. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in an enclosed place with someone and they don’t know how to react.
4. Go with a driving school – I know that they can be quite pricey compared to an independant instructor however after much deliberation I opted for Red Driving school. My decision was based on two reasons, firstly, they’re representing a brand so they have to maintain professionalism (something my previous instructors lacked) and secondly, they provide a progress card so you’re able to track your progress and are aware of how well you’re doing. For someone who’s a perfectionist and gets worked up when I don’t know what’s planned this is a god send.
5. Be realistic – It’s great to push yourself and try your best, but sometimes there are days where you just can’t, and you know what, that’s absolutely fine. If you’re unable to carry out your lesson, it’s ok to cancel. As with most appointment it’s obviously great to let your instructor know well beforehand but anxiety isn’t exactly predictable, so going back to being honest about your anxiety, I’d say try it. It’s much easier than thinking up excuses and feeling awful about that on top.
6. You’re driving! – Lastly, driving lessons are an emotional rollercoaster for everyone. You will have good lessons and bad lessons but always remember that regardless of how you’re progressing, you’re still in a car, you’re still driving more than you were before and most of all you’re taking a small step to a huge achievement. And once you pass, no one (except maybe a traffic cop, but we won’t go there) will be able to take that away from you.
I’m not yet done with my lessons yet but I’m hoping to pass before the end of the year. Do you have any tips or tricks for me?