Home » How Learning to Drive As an Adult Changed My Life
By ☆ Published: December 28, 2016, 2:03 am (updated 8 years ago)

How Learning to Drive As an Adult Changed My Life

Learning to drive as an adult? Isn’t that something you do as a teenager? Here’s what it’s like to be the only adult who can’t drive.

My boyfriend is looking at me in the way that you don’t want to be looked at by a significant other.

He’s sweating profusely and feeling miserable because he has just been hit by food poisoning. The type of food poisoning that happens when you eat something that is horribly off. He needs me to drive and I just look at him in mute embarrassment.

Because I can’t drive.

I don’t have my license and this guy I like so much is looking at me with disbelief and a bit of disappointment.

I can’t blame him.

An adult who can’t drive?

How did I end up as an adult without a driver’s license?

It’s pretty much an article of faith that learning to drive is something you do as a teenager. Everyone does. It’s a rite of passage.

While it’s a bit uncommon in the state that I live in, it’s not an unusual story. My mom raised me after my parents divorced and I watched her dash from one job to the next: on foot, via bus, and by car.

When it was time for me to start learning to drive, I was getting around town just fine. Yellow school bus and public transit for the win.

I didn’t notice that I was being left behind as my classmates began driving and received or earned their first cars.

To be honest, driving wasn’t a priority. I knew that my mom wouldn’t be able to afford to buy me a car. Besides, I honestly preferred to buy clothes, yummy food, and fun things instead. So, I put off learning to drive for more years than I care to admit.

The inconvenience of being without a driver’s license.

Initially, it was not that big a deal. As I got older, though, I became more and more aware of how socially awkward my inability to drive was becoming for both myself and the people around me.

I was pretty good at getting around town and even other cities with public transit. I could navigate a new city by foot or bus and wow the people in my life with my knowledge of the L.A. transit system (they have a metro), the Paris Metro, or New York City’s subway system.

This knowledge didn’t change the reality that my friends were resigned to the fact that they would be driving me to the mountains every time we went for the weekend (we live in Colorado).

Or, whenever we went out for drinks my friends would become the unwitting designated driver unless I took a cab. Basically, as time went on, my friends began feeling used.

Learning to drive was outside my comfort zone.

What I didn’t count on was that the older I got, the more frightened I would become of embracing the driving process. As a pedestrian I saw people talking on their phones, eating food, and generally being completely distracted behind the wheel.

I also didn’t count on the fact that public transit would improve to the point where I found myself loving the fact that I could hop on and off the light rail to get to where I needed to go within 15 minutes or less.

Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing systems made me even more reluctant to learn how to drive. But, the older I got the more acutely I noticed how my Not Driving impacted those around me.

It was a life skill I had to learn.

So, I decided to take drastic measures and force myself to learn.

I bought a car.

Yep, I bought a car from my friend before moving cross-country. It was a great car and only cost $1,500. I bit the bullet and bought a car before learning to drive.

Making good on my investment.

In most circles, a car purchase doesn’t count as an investment. But I paid cash money for that car, and now I had to make sure it paid off.

I began the painful process of learning to drive. Ironically, the actual action of driving wasn’t the biggest issue for me. It was the fact that no one wanted to drive around with a beginning driver who wasn’t their kid.

I had a couple of lovely friends who graciously volunteered to sit in the car while I practiced, but they were few and far between.

Finally, I began taking driving lessons (which are ridiculously expensive) and finally got enough courage to take the driving test.

I finally have my license.

It does feel different. My friends, bless them, are very proud of me and have volunteered to go driving with me so I can practice more. Now I feel like a member of a not-so-exclusive club that excludes people due to lack of access to a car, fear, or not enough money to afford one.

I savor the freedom that knowing how to drive gives me.  I no longer worry that I won’t be able to help a loved one in an emergency come.

I will never forget that look on my boyfriend’s face. Fortunately, that look won’t happen again.

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How Learning to Drive As an Adult Changed My Life was last modified: January 13th, 2017 by Michelle Jackson

2 thoughts on “How Learning to Drive As an Adult Changed My Life”

  1. I am still on my restricted licence (in between learner and full)!

    I really don’t like driving. I’m nervy, I’m not very coordinated, bad at multitasking, have bad spatial awareness, and drivers here are kinda terrible. My life is set up so that I don’t need to drive on a day to day basis, and we have one car in our household (for leisure stuff and errands, and taking the dogs around).I’m definitely glad to HAVE my licence, as you say it is a life skill and it’s great to have options in situations such as needing to take someone to the ER or whatever. I do feel like the longer I go between the driving the more I build it up in my head and the scarier it becomes. I’ve been driving quite a bit lately, but my confidence took a big hit when I hit the fence reversing out of the driveway and damaged the back of the car…

  2. Not everyone is meant to drive. I’m middle-aged and don’t drive. I learned in my 20’s, but never could afford a car. Over time I became too afraid. My vision is poor and I suffer from a lot of anxiety, so I’ve always felt uneasy behind the wheel. In all the time I’ve maintained my license “just in case” (almost 25 years), I never even had the courage to rent a car.. so finally, nearly three years ago, I stopped renewing my license.

    Public transportation exists for a reason. Stop shaming yourself or others because they started driving “too late”, or don’t drive at all. Even in this car-centric country, there are means to get around most cities and towns. As for your friends, if they truly loved you, they wouldn’t have seen giving you rides as a burden. That said, if you kept imposing upon them, then it’s really on you, hon’. Rarely do I ask for rides. I find a way to get there myself, or I don’t go at all. The last time I asked for a ride is to a family wedding 2 years ago after offering to take an expensive cab if it wasn’t possible. The next wedding, I found out how to get there myself. Now that you drive, you don’t have to worry about stuff like that. Good for you. 🙂

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