Over time, when one feels ok to speak of it, a lot of times you get empathy, and shared stories. It's been like that for quite a few others whom I've spoken to, mostly women. One friend told me how she sets the speed-limit on the German auto-bahns and has learnt to ignore the impatience of other drivers. One of them had to be brave because her husband though driving in India, could not adapt to the situation here. Each of them has waged their own private battle in getting rid of this fear. My friends have been gems. The solution is driving often, greater distances and gradually expanding your comfort zone. One was brave enough to offer to accompany me on drives. Another attempted to teach me parallel parking. And maybe smiled privately when I would practice my reverse moves with my hand first:)
In time, I've improved. If I have someone accompanying me, another adult, I mean - I am almost normal and self-assured. But clearly that is never the case. It is when I have my precious cargo of two, chattering in the back, then I become anxious and jittery. Unknown roads are unnerving too and so I try to do a dry run whenever possible. The last time I had to take my daughter to a birthday party, I'd spent a harried one hour going up and down the roads trying to locate an obscure destination. Google maps had been misleading.
Only recently I completed my first 56 kms to another birthday party venue. I realized that my fear stems partly from forgetting my theory and I've brushed that up - speed limits, right of way, priorities, and try to drive within the speed limit even if there are cars tailing me close. They are free to overtake. I also use the GPS and it gives me comfort to hear its voice. Lastly it's the encouragement and trust from my little ones. Feels great to hear my daughter tell me - Mama, do your best, you will be fine and a thumbs up sign. In another instance, I had to drive her to her tennis lesson, normally the husband's job. Since this was the first time and without a GPS I was a bit unsure of the way, I was told - just follow your nose! Which did eventually take us there :)
To all cautious beginners - Celebrate every small achievement of yours! Positive self-talk to yourself to be confident is very important. Drive within speed limits and not too slow either. Meet your fear head-on, because often there is no choice. If you have the will, you can drive...
Also published in the anniversary issue of IndianMomsConnect here