Jakarta | At the age of 26, I finally decided to learn to drive again. Living in Jakarta without being able to drive is mobility limiting as the city’s public transportation is underdeveloped. Little did I know that driving doesn’t only give me the flexibility to move around, but also give me the confidence and courage to learn any new skills.
Last weekend, I finally had the courage to drive to two new places alone, another driving milestone for me. It took me a few months to reach this step, probably longer than others but that’s okay. I celebrate small wins. I’m most proud of myself that I took all the lessons needed to make myself ready while embracing the fear at the same time.
Insecurities come from lacking of practice
It took me around eight years to get back to driving again after a few accidents in the past. To begin with, everyone agrees that Jakarta’s traffic is probably one of the worst in the world. But, what’s stopping me was the voices of fear inside my head — what if the police fine me, what if I crash a motorbike, what if I got flat tire in a highway?, what ifs.
It took me eight years to realise that most of these questions will not answer themselves unless I’m taking a proactive approach to answer them. Besides practicing with my driver around, I subscribed to an 8-hour driving lesson. As if it’s still not enough, I made a full list of possible driving scenarios that had been circling in my head get people who drive to answer them.
Yes, all these practices are necessary to learn the driving knowledge. But most important is to curb the insecure voices in my head and replace them with confidence. That is what matters.
The hardest part is showing up
For the longest time, I told myself that driving is optional. I will survive life without knowing how to. Most of the time, my parents have a driver at home, otherwise ride-hailing app comes in handy nowadays. These become sort of excuses for me not to show up to practice. Eventually, my driving fear snowballed becoming insecurities.
I know, out of all practices I’ve committed to, the hardest part is indeed showing up. This time around, I pushed myself to drive whenever possible instead of sitting in the passenger seat. Surprise but not so surprise, driving is not as scary as I imagined. Whenever I practice, I feel I’m already winning half of the battle because I have win against my biggest enemy — my own insecurity.
Be patient with the process, everything gets better with practice
It’s the most fundamental mindset for all beginners, yet so hard to do. As part of the instant generation, I tend to undermine the process. When I was struggling after a few practices, I was tempted to give up and think I’m just not good at it, thinking why it seems everyone else can do it naturally while I’m anxiously sweating in each drive?
Then, I looked back and see how much I had progressed since the first day, which is quite significant. I was reminded by a friend that everyone else went through the same struggles, it’s just I don’t get to see their behind the scenes. I have a lifetime to practice driving and to fall in love with the process of learning. **Why rushing?
Support system is more important than you think
When it comes to learning new things, I don’t find people talk about the importance of finding the right support system enough. I am not talking about the a community of beginner drivers, although it probably would be a great idea to have one. I am talking about simple things, like getting the support and appreciation from the people around me. I understand that motivation and confidence have to come from within. But, external validation does boost the confidence.
I got friends who validated my struggles. I got driving coaches who never criticised me whenever I made mistake. I got father who encouraged me to drive to more challenging roads. I got messages that cheer for my small wins. They are all little things, often underappreciated, but they make the learning journey a lot less tough.
These perspectives echo with Mindset by Carol Dweck — a book about growth mindset that I unintentionally read during my driving journey. The book helps me a lot to enjoy the process and embrace my mistakes. Have a read!
Enjoying the process, progress, and effort,
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