The 3rd Time’s the Charm? Why It’s OK to Fail Your Driver’s Test

Driver's Test, Cher from Clueless

“You’re going to Driver’s ED. There’s no questions about it.” This is what my mom told me when I came in from riding my bike at sixteen. I was speechless. I had no desire to get behind the wheel of a car, let alone take 3 hour long classes during the summer about how to operate a vehicle. Let alone pass a driver’s test.

I was one of the few kids in my grade that didn’t want my license.

It might seem strange, but I was one of the few kids in my grade that didn’t want my license. All my other friends were getting their permits, getting in their driving hours, and going through the process to get their license.

Me? I had made it clear that I did not want the responsibility of driving a hunk of metal around and risking my life alongside others. It was a battle, but after a long debate, I took drivers ed. On the very last day, I went down to the MVA and got my permit.

Things went stale for awhile with driving. I was busy with school, trying to up my GPA and prepare for college applications – junior year is just that insanely busy year that we all have in high school. I drove in parking lots with my dad, and eventually graduated to driving around my town.

But each time I got in the car, my anxiety would kick in. What if I accidentally turned the wrong way (I still mess up left and right)? What if I kick the car into neutral? *Sidenote: that accidentally happened once when my dad leaned over when we were on the highway. Terrifying.* A bunch of questions would always race through my brain every time I turned the car on and started to drive, and though my mom and dad tried to assure me that I was a good driver, I was never sure. clueless clueless movie GIF

Learning how to drive didn’t go as smoothly as most people’s driving experiences went, but I still believe that it’s going to be tough to learn regardless. Driving is a completely foreign concept, unlike anything you learn in school, and it’s hands on. If you’re like me, and you’re much more of a reading/writing kind of learner, it’s slightly challenging.

So needless to say, I avoided driving as much as I possibly could. It wasn’t even as though I was actively avoiding driving, it just wasn’t majorly important to me. My friends were getting their licenses, celebrating, and I was content to be driven places or to walk to them. Because everywhere I need to go is in such close proximity to me, I didn’t feel like I was missing out too much.

It wasn’t until the end of my senior year during the summer, I felt like I was slighted. I couldn’t leave the house whenever, and I started to feel more of a need to have my license. So before I left for college, I decided to sign up for my driver’s test. It needed to happen at some point, and I was going to have to accept that driving was going to be something I needed to know how to do.

Failing struck me in a serious way, and it inhibited me from wanting to try again.

The first test didn’t go well. I got in the car after a long, slightly taxing process at the MVA, and my instructor wasn’t the most encouraging (it’s kind of their job to not show too much emotion) and immediately failed the parking portion. In my state, we just have to reverse park, and since I was so used to parallel parking, I didn’t practice too much for reverse parking. I hit a cone, and didn’t make it out onto the road.

Failing struck me in a serious way, and it inhibited me from wanting to try again. I went off to college, forgot all about getting my license, until winter break when I tried again. This time, I felt unusually sick and especially nervous, (unbeknownst to myself or my family, I had a serious case of mono.) and failed.

I still didn’t make it out onto the road, and I was feeling more discouraged than ever. I started to curse myself for not getting my license earlier, and I felt like a failure. All my friends had passed their first try, and of course, I had to be the one who couldn’t even back into a parking spot.

 spongebob GIFIt wasn’t until I took the driver’s test a third time, that I made it out onto the road – and passed. I remember that moment so vividly, putting the car in park and running over to my mom to tell her I had finally gotten my license. (I still look goofy in my license picture) But it was this major accomplishment that I almost couldn’t believe I had done. After such a long process of trying to get my license, I had done it.

To this day, I still get a little nervous when I get in the car to drive. But I no longer feel like a failure because it took me three times to pass my driver’s test, if anything, I like to tell people that I’m extra good at driving because I took the test so many times. Be proud of who you are and the mistakes and tribulations you make along the way, they’ll build you up and make you more prepared for the tribulations of the future.

So to anyone who’s about to get their license, failed their driver’s test, or in the process, you got this! Keep persevering, and eventually you’ll get it.

Cover image via Odyssey.

Also published on Medium.