Keeping up with the Quaranteens
Keeping up with the Quaranteens

Home from uni, Amelia Oates reflects on missing out on a right of passage

FAILURE. A word tinged with negativity, sadness, and self-loathing; three emotions I became very well acquainted with after failing my driving test.
I can understand that to many of you the way I felt after I pulled up early to the driving test centre may seem like an over exaggeration. But learning to drive has been a real struggle for me. Although driving gave me the idea of freedom and independence I wanted, actually doing it terrified me.
You can’t tell me that hurtling along the dual carriage way at 60 miles per hour in effectively a metal box is a safe thing to do!
So many of my friends passed with ease having learnt quickly and could, therefore, enjoy the pleasure of driving.
I, on the other hand, clearly did not. Having turned 17 more than two years ago, I felt the immense pressure to get my provisional licence, buy a car and learn to drive immediately. However, at the time of pre-pandemic I didn’t see the rush and waited until February 2020 to begin lessons. As you can imagine, my journey was cut short in the March and my hopes of getting my licence quickly fizzled out.
When I finally got the chance to get back in the driver’s seat, I couldn’t bring myself to even pull off the driveway. I had no confidence in my ability and my anxiety towards driving had only increased, meaning that having a lesson felt like a huge challenge, constantly feeling something bad was going to happen with me on the roads. It took me months to get back up to speed with lessons and I felt I had to learn everything from scratch again. But I knew that the only way that I was ever going to drive was to actually drive.
After hours of practising manoeuvres with my dad and driving my mum to the supermarket, it all clicked into place – or so I thought.
I rocked up to the test centre after a pre-test lesson feeling calm and confident. But some things don’t always go our way. Even though I’d only picked up one minor fault, one major fault ended my hopes and dreams of finally having that pass certificate in my hand.
I did, and still do, feel disappointed in myself for such a silly mistake. But that’s all it was – a mistake.
Just because I failed, doesn’t mean that I am never going to pass, although it may feel like that right now.
The same goes with those of us who just received GCSE and A-Level results in the summer. If you didn’t get the grade you wanted, it doesn’t mean that you’re stupid. Similarly with your dream university. If you didn’t get in, who’s to say that you’re not going to have an amazing time at the one you’re now headed too?
Perspective is so important in these situations, and if I take a step back, I realise how lucky I am to have been given the opportunity and financial means to learn to drive, even the fact that my parents have a car for me to practice in was a blessing.
Someone once told me that ‘comparison is the thief of joy,’ and even though I’m sat here now thinking of my friends driving around freely, some things just don’t work out; that’s not the end of the world.
Amelia Oates is studying journalism at the University of Sheffield