The first day, we went over the basics i.e how to make sure your car is fit to be on the road etc etc. The second day was business proper and I was focused! With eyes glued on the road, I couldn’t afford to smile. My sombre look even prompted one of the area guys to comment, bo u nor dey smile? I managed a sloppy smile but was back to being serious in no time; nothing, not even a smile, would take away from my concentration. And my instructor, teacher lemp-lemp personified, didn’t help the situation at all. He, realizing how scared I was, wouldn’t give me a break.
Everyday after class, I would call my husband right away to update him on my achievement for the day. I drove here. I drove there. I navigated so-and-so curve. Etc. He was super impressed, it seemed, until he decided to give me a chance to show off my newly acquired skill. But the brother was in for a surprise! All that confidence flew out the window once I got behind the wheel. I could tell that the brother was nervous. I could understand. Once- bitten-twice-shy, even I was nervous.. With sweaty palms, I turned on the ignition and started the car. I gently stepped on the gas/accelerator and was driving at snail pace until we hit the road. My husband must have assumed that I would hit the gas/accelerator once we were on the highway. But noooo. I was going at a speed that I could manage and according to the speedometer, that speed was 10 mph. YES, I WAS DRIVING AT 10 MILES PER HOUR. The other drivers must have assumed I was aged because they all just zoomed right past me. No one really seemed to bother me; I was in my own lane, in a league of my own. My husband couldn’t hide his disappointment. I thought you said you could drive, his eyes said. I had no defence. We eventually switched seats and he silently drove the rest of the way.
I decided to take matters into my own that day. Not too long after, I quit driving school and started practicing on my own at home. On Sunday April 10 2016, history was made when for the first time in my life, I drove ALL BY MYSELF to church and back (albeit with the biggest ‘L’ (learner’s) sign in the history of driving in Freetown and probably around the world). Few months after, I got my license and have been driving ever since, braving new roads every so often. Today, to the glory of God, I can confidently say I CAN DRIVE and that’s a big deal!
But this is not just a post about driving. It is much more than that; it is about overcoming fear. I’ve discovered that by overcoming my fear of driving, I have, by the grace of God, been able to overcome fear in many other areas of my life and have learnt some valuable lessons in the process. Here’s a few:
- Be focused and stay focused. Distractions can be fatal and there are many. Cellphones (that text message/whatsapp and facebook message can wait). Okadas. Pedestrians. Hawkers. The distractions are endless. Make a decision to focus.
- Refuse to be Intimidated – As a learner, I had other drivers honk incessantly or make snide comments whenever they encountered me on the road. Initially, I must confess, their actions/ words intimidated me and I would literally stop the car in the middle of the road when I encountered trucks / when a driver had succeeded in honking me down. But not anymore. I have a right to be on the road just as they have. Besides, they were once learners.
- No matter how high the hill or how lofty the mountain, keep going. I learnt this valuable lesson when my instructor took me on my 4th driving class to Mountain Cut (like the name implies, the road is literally a cut in the mountain and is porbbaly one of the steepest points in the whole of Freetown). I almost passed out when I saw the hill. Keep your feet on the accelerator/ gas pedal and you will eventually surmount that hill. That’s what my instructor said to me, though not necessarily in those words. And that is exactly what I did and to God be the glory, I conquered that hill. It’s the same with life – no matter how far the goal, keep moving. One step at a time. You will eventually get there.
- E easy for teach posin wae fool pass posin wae dey fraid (It is easier to teach a ‘slow’ person than a person who is afraid) – a ‘guest’ instructor told me one day. That got to me. It’s like saying there’s more hope for that person who is a slow learner than for someone who is afraid. That challenged me. I resolved not to let fear rule my life. Phil 4: 13 became my driving companion, ‘I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.’
- No one can do it for you. Your instructors can guide you but they cannot drive for you. It’s the same with life. No one can live out your life for you. People may advise you, parents may counsel you but you, and only you, get to make the decisions and live with them.
- Write down your vision. Where do you see yourself in x years? Write it down. You may not even be halfway there yet but writing it down does something for the mind. Seeing your goal on paper helps you believe in you and your vision. I wrote in several places including my diary, I can drive. I am driving.
P.S I will post a pic of my former diary when I locate it 🙂
WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?
Daughter of the King