enismirdal: (erestor swan 2 (my own picture!))
[personal profile] enismirdal
This is pretty pathetic for someone who has held a full license for 4 years and owned a car for 2 years, but...driving still scares me if I'm on my own or on an unfamiliar route. I get all wound up and stressed about it beforehand and am not a happy dragon. Before today, I had never driven on a motorway on my own, despite having done it with a passenger loads of times and largely without incident.

Today, I had to go to a meeting with a collaborator. The collaborator's site is accessible by public transport, but you have to go train-bus-train, and the second train only comes once an hour. So I'd have to leave home at about 8am to be sure to arrive between 10am and 10:30am in case the connecting bus ran into traffic. Alternatively, it's about a 30 minute drive (if the traffic is good). I almost wimped out and got the slow, overpriced, but less scary public transport option...but decided to be brave. So drove all the way there, even on the motorway, then a dual carriageway, then some entirely unfamiliar roads through some villages.

It took a bit over an hour, because it turns out one of the villages is a hellish bottleneck, but I did it. It gave me extra time in bed, and when the meeting was over, it meant I was back at work a good 45 minutes earlier. It also saved money despite being awful for the planet.

While "I drove 25 miles today" isn't really something most people would be proud of, I am proud of myself today, for doing something that scared me. Now it is less scary, because it went OK and I didn't cause any accidents.

Sometimes, it's little things. But little things add up to big things and one day perhaps I'll be brave enough to do something big, like drive up north to see my dad, or take myself on a weekend away somewhere that requires going round the M25.

Date: 6 Dec 2016 07:05 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wellinghall.livejournal.com
Well done! That is quite a big thing; and it will be a step to even bigger things.

Date: 6 Dec 2016 18:35 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
Thank you. I hope it will now make me feel comfortable about doing it again - I am meant to be visiting a school early next year that would involve driving along the same bit of motorway so being confident doing that alone would be handy!

Date: 6 Dec 2016 07:59 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] atreic.livejournal.com
Well done! I find driving really scary too. You might have one already, but I found a good sat nav that I was used to really helped, so I could concentrate on driving and not have to pay as much attention to not getting lost.

Date: 6 Dec 2016 18:38 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
Really? I assumed you were pretty happy driving (you always strike me as a has-it-together sort of person). I don't have a sat nav yet (partly a conscious choice as I wanted to learn to cope without one by reading signs and whatnot) but I think I might get one soonish because, as you say, they do come in handy on unfamiliar routes. We usually hire one when we're on holiday and driving in new places, especially overseas. It was...moderately useless in Ireland, but mostly useful in Sweden. If it's one of the ones that tells you what lane to be in, that's REALLY useful. That's the biggest thing that freaks me out, getting in the right lane on large junctions (especially when some bright spark puts the markings on the ground, forgetting that in heavy traffic, that means they're covered by cars...).

Date: 8 Dec 2016 15:19 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] atreic.livejournal.com
Yes, I really recommend a decent Satnav that tells you which lane. Actually, google maps on my phone is getting surprisingly good...

I'm relaxed about long drives on motorways and duel carriageways, because I've just done it so much now, but any kind of fiddly residental driving, or argh, parking (I will go right to the bottom of the carpark to find a space with no-one next to it) is still hard work. Worth it though, there are lots of fun things you can do with a car that are much harder to do without.

Date: 6 Dec 2016 09:41 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] doseybat.livejournal.com
I have had the licence for 4 years and too scared to drive. Hope to make it to the same place as you someday :)

Date: 6 Dec 2016 18:41 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
But didn't you drive in Nairobi a week or two after passing your test?

I suppose you're based around London which is pretty scary overall.

For me, it was buying a car that made the difference. It seems like just doing lots of pottering about does (eventually) have a positive effect. I found that that gradually more and more of the making-the-car-go basic things are becoming more natural and instinctive, which frees up brain for things like navigation and dealing with weird stuff.
Edited Date: 6 Dec 2016 18:41 (UTC)

Date: 6 Dec 2016 20:09 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] doseybat.livejournal.com
The hardest part is always forcing myself into the car, sort of ridiculous solo willpower athletics competition where winning = agreeing to drive and getting in. And since getting moving into this flat surrounded by ridiculously narrow double-parked streets something shifted in the balance if power and I have consistently lost.

Except [livejournal.com profile] pyrokaren's automatic in Calfornia might work better. (Empty NW Kenya was an OK strarter driver envirnmant but I have not dared Nairobi!)
Edited Date: 6 Dec 2016 20:10 (UTC)

Date: 6 Dec 2016 20:37 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
Yeah, automatics definitely reduce the amount of thinking required. It was probably the only reason I was able to bring myself to drive in Trinidad at all. Very much sympathies re getting in being the hardest bit - I find the preparing to do Big Scary Driving is way worse than how I feel once I'm actually doing it. Narrow busy streets with impatient drivers and hard junctions is definitely offputting.

Ah, hadn't realised it was rural Kenya rather than Nairobi. I'd never ever drive in Nairobi but yeah, smaller African towns with quiet roads aren't nearly so bad, especially if there's at least a "system" if not precisely proper highway rules!

Date: 6 Dec 2016 11:34 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cartesiandaemon.livejournal.com
*hugs* Well done!

I think a lot of people are *somewhat* scared of driving, but I always think of it as something I can do, or not, even though admitting maybe driving, but not at night, or whatever, might be reasonable. When I started I was fairly bold, but I definitely thought of what I can definitely do (road I know, and motorways I was ok with), what I could do but only with planning (navigating an unfamiliar city or unfamiliar A roads) and what I didn't do at all (central london, abysmal weather).

Driving over routes you're familiar with, and occasionally trying new ones, seems definitely like a good way to handle things.

Date: 6 Dec 2016 18:47 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
*hugs back* Thanks!

You are probably right...I tend to assume that your average Adult with their I Am An Adult shirt just does stuff like driving wherever without thinking too hard about it and that I am a sub-adult because I can't do that yet really.

Yes, I definitely categorise routes into "no stress" (essentially 3 routes if alone: home-work, home-Tesco, home-farm shop), "low stress" (work-Rochester, Rochester-home, home-work via GP surgery, home-Sainsbury's), "moderate stress" (that I'd do happily with CRI but panic about doing alone) and "high stress" (anything new). Having CRI with me decreases the stress by at least one level even when he's not doing anything!

And yes, it seems to work. Home to work every day used to be horrible when I first got the car and I'd get the bus on some days just to give my nerves a break, but now after many replicates and knowing every pothole and the cycle of all the traffic lights, it's fine. Now and again we have the need to pop somewhere totally new, or even familiar-but-occasional and the more I do those sorts of routes the less scary future ones seem.

Date: 6 Dec 2016 15:19 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] naath.livejournal.com
I passed my test aged 18. Since then I have driven ... 3 times. I hate it (I'm bad at it, obviously, having not done it in years) so I refuse to do it.

Date: 6 Dec 2016 18:49 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] enismirdal.livejournal.com
Fair enough! I didn't really want to, but being a horrendous cyclist and getting frustrated with the dire public transport round our area (I know so many colleagues who used to get the bus but got so sick of being late to work and late home they've either bought a car or are thinking of doing so) I realised now was a better time to crack this whole driving malarkey than if I was living in Cambridge or London where driving seems horrific. I don't think I'll ever be a particularly good driver but at least I try to follow the rules!

Date: 6 Dec 2016 22:32 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lauand.livejournal.com
I tend to forget that this addition of little things doesn't always happen with the negative events. Because tiny failures and insignificant, annoying interactions often add up and make a big ball of stress and unhappiness for me, but I don't always notice how small successes can lead to big accomplishments, too. So thank you for this post, for reminding me that a lot of little good things can also add up to a big good thing.

Congratulations, by the way, I'm really happy for you!

Date: 9 Dec 2016 07:14 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaysea.livejournal.com
Congratulations! I get what you mean. I've been driving for 13ish years, but cities drive me insane. People have become so shitty and rude, it makes me so mad. But what god does that do?
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