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You Should Never Give Up on Your Dreams

New Year is traditionally the time for a fresh start and goal setting. A few resolutions about how we will do this year differently from the last, anything to keep us inspired through the long dark months following the festive season. In spite of our enthusiasm and optimism, it’s easy to let those good intentions slip. Research shows that 66% of people have broken at least one resolution before the end of the first month of the year! (Guardian Poll, 2015)

I’ve made a few resolutions over the years, some I’ve stuck to and some that I can barely remember by the end of January. If I could give you one resolution to keep in 2017, it would be ‘Never give up on your dreams’ it’s not a traditional resolution and if we are going to be pedantic it’s probably more of a mantra. It does cover a range of things though and might just keep you inspired throughout the year.

A recent conversation on Instagram made me think a bit more in depth on the whole idea of never giving up. It was about learning to drive. Basically, if you ever want anyone to be your cheerleader when you are feeling down about learning to drive, that would be me. Yes, just to inspire you a little more and encourage you to keep believing in your dream, I’m going to share something that I rarely share in public. I passed my driving test on my 13th attempt. Phew, it feels liberating to get that off my chest. Seriously though I’m very proud of my achievement, I don’t share it often only because I worry that people might be scared to get into a car with me! I’m a safe driver, honest. In my 15 years of driving, I’ve had 1 speeding ticket and one very minor bump (the other person was driving the wrong way down the road, but that’s a whole other story). I thought I’d share some of the story to my long-winded success.

I started to learn to drive when I was 28. It meant a lot to me as part of my anxiety disorder manifested itself in panic attacks on public transport and motorways, so the thought of being able to drive would give me some control and hopefully freedom.

I found a driving instructor near to work (as I would take lessons during my lunch hour) and took the plunge out on the open road. I was an average student and picked up the whole driving thing within around 20 lessons. I put in for my test and that is where it began to go wrong. I was very nervous but determined. All was going well during the test and I began to feel more confident. Manoeuvres all done and we were on our way back to the test centre and then I did it, I made a stupid mistake. I knew in my heart it meant a fail and I was gutted. As predicted we got back to the test centre and the examiner confirmed that I had indeed failed. He showed me my sheet and remarked ‘It’s such a shame as you’d been doing so well up to that point.’ Of course, that made me kick myself even more.

I picked myself up and put myself in for another test, that was a disaster as all I could remember was the last test and I just lost my nerve. Not to be defeated I put in for my test again, third time lucky right? Wrong! Over the following 2 years I continued as I was so determined to pass this goddamned test. The problem was that once I got past the 3rd test, it became a psychological block for me. I was fine driving with my husband and with my driving instructor but I would crumble on a test. It was so frustrating and the worst part was that everyone knew. I’d made no secret of the fact I was learning to people. I would get the same pitying look every time I had to say that yes, I’d failed again. In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have told people as it put extra pressure on me to perform. I became the butt of a few little jokes at work, but I took it in good spirits.

People told me to give up, that it wasn’t the end of the world, but this just made me more determined. I am one of those people who become determined to prove others wrong when they tell me I can’t do anything. There were some interesting tales along the way. There was the time that:

  • A random person decided to walk down the middle of the road. I had no clue what to do as the Highway Code gives little guidance in these matters. I just trailed behind that person, hoping for some inclination of what to do from the examiner, he just stared steadfastly ahead.
  • I took tests through different seasons and of course, there would come a time when heavy snowfall coincided with one of my scheduled tests. I sat expectantly in the test centre for over an hour whilst the examiners decided what to do. By the time that they decided we could go ahead I was a total bundle of nerves and the fact is the conditions were awful. The examiner decided to cut the test short and return us to the Test Centre. I guess that was the test I didn’t fail and I did get a free re-test.
  • Another test I turned into a road and right onto the scene of a major traffic accident. There was no way to get away from it and I spent 45 minutes trapped in traffic. Seeing ambulances and police heading to the scene was worrying as I kept thinking about the poor people in the accident. I decided that the examiner would probably call time on the test, but no, after we managed to get away (doing my first ever U-Turn as directed by the examiner) we had to do the whole test. I’m not kidding I was out in that car for nearly 2 hours, and I still failed that goddamned test (the people in the crash although badly injured, seemed to be ok).
  • I arrived at another test and as soon as I got into the car the examiner looked at me and said ‘Ooh I’ve seen you here before.’ What? I just crumpled and I think I failed that test before I even turned on the ignition.
  • I even changed Test Centres in the hope that a fresh start would help, but the examiner there was really odd and I didn’t even feel comfortable with him in the car, so I soon scurried back to my original Test Centre. Me and my poor driving instructor used to joke that I spent so much time at the Test Centre that they were going to invite me to their Christmas party. I still have a sneaky suspicion that there might even be a couple of grandchildren out there with my name as their middle name.

Anyway, I digress, how did I turn it around? How did I get to the point where I actually became legal to drive a car without supervision. Apart from the sheer stubbornness to continue, I did two things. I pretended that I was going to take a break from the driving tests, and I got a couple of hypnosis sessions from a colleague at work who was training to be a hypnotherapist. I had a couple of additional lessons with my instructor and I booked a new test. I didn’t even tell my husband! What that did was take the pressure off so that even if I failed, no-one would need to know and I could take another (or however many it would take). A friend at work was training to becoming a hypnotherapist and put out an email saying that he needed someone to complete a case study. It seemed ideal to me, I knew that my driving test failures had become a psychological block and I needed to reprogramme my mind to passing my test and not failing it. The hypnosis was really helpful and he also gave me a tape to listen to in my own time to further reinforce the positive messages.

The day dawned of my test and I felt positive, but a little apprehensive of course. As soon as I go into the car I felt different. I had to reverse into a parking space at the beginning of the test and it went well. The whole test went quickly and then we pulled up in the test centre and I awaited my fate. He turned to me and said those words I had wanted to hear for so long ‘Mrs H I am pleased to say that you have passed your test.’ I could have kissed him, let’s face it I knew all these examiners so well they were practically family by this point. My driving instructor was relieved, no more trips to the Test Centre with me. I skipped happily back into work and the first thing I did was fax a copy of my pass certificate to my husband at work. I didn’t put any explanation at all and waited for the email. Within minutes I got a message from him saying ‘eh?’ The rest is history and I was let loose on the streets with my own driving licence.

So I guess what I am trying to say in an incredibly roundabout (brevity is not my friend!) is that you shoudl never ever give up. Even if your goal seems so out of your reach, keep going and be stubborn. Whatever your goals this year, keep going. Besides if you give up, then you’ll never know, will you?


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  • hayleyfromhome

    February 1, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Well done you for sticking at it and passing! You must be so proud of yourself and you’re actually probably a safer driver now than most people on the road! I completely get were you are coming from, I’ve never felt as anxious in my life as I did for my driving test, if I had to take one now I don’t know what I’d do. I failed my first as my legs were shaking so much I barely had control over the car…and I stopped at a green light! I think taking it as a teenager though gives you that bit of confidence to get through it. It gets harder I think to stick to your dreams as you get older and real life gets in the way, it’s something we should all do though! xx

    1. Siena Says

      February 20, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      Well, I am not sure how safe I am, I would hope I’m a pretty safe driver. Yes, I wish I had done my test as a teenager, but I was quite nervous about it. I couldn’t imagine being on my own in control of a car!

      You are right real life does get in the way of trying to pursue your dreams and sometimes you have to realise that some dreams are just out of reach. I have had to accept that I am never going to be in a girl band or write a bestselling novel, but it’s good to keep smaller dreams and go after them 🙂

      Thanks for commenting xx

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