You know those people who struggle to do even the most basic things in life? It’s like they can’t even go for a walk without making a giant fiasco out of it. Well, I’m one of those people. I finished school a year late because I constantly found myself fighting off giant depression demons. I almost had a breakdown in my second year at college because of a severe case of the sophomore blues. I can’t go to a party without risking having a panic attack. I haven’t ever been in a relationship because I don’t know how to approach guys that I like without coming across as a gay version of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. Sometimes I spend an entire day just lying in bed and wishing I was dead. Anyway…
When I finished high school I thought that I had finally won the biggest battle of my life, but I was so, so wrong. I had no idea that the thing that would cause me to die one thousand times before I got it right was still coming: my driver’s license. You see, I tried to drive once in primary school, and despite the fact that I was driving slower than a turtle moves, I managed to drive the car into a bush. And that ended up being the last time I attempted to drive for over a decade. I don’t think that my dad’s nerves could take it.
Most people in their teens (especially boys) get their learner’s license before finishing school. Not me. I was too busy being morbidly depressed, socially awkward, and hopelessly closeted to be doing such things. The plan was that I would get my learner’s and my driver’s license during my college years, but that also didn’t happen. Mostly because I failed my learner’s test three times. Yes, I know that it isn’t the world’s most difficult test, but in my defense, it’s a crock of shit that is designed to make people fail and feel stupid. And it did exactly that to me. I’m not someone who handles failure very well, because I am incredibly hard on myself. However, because I dread failure so much, it follows me wherever I go.
When I finally passed my learner’s test at the beginning of 2014, I was very anxious to get started with my driving lessons. I am sick to death of having to walk everywhere I go, especially in the unforgiving Pretorian sun. Worse than that, I hate having to ask people to give me lifts to faraway places. I am fortunate enough to know a handful of kind people who have been really helpful in getting me to where I need to be, but that doesn’t change the fact that I hate asking them. I always felt like some unfortunate fool who was constantly burdening other people with my needs. Some of my friends even started giving me subtle hints that they were getting tired of having to take me everywhere. This was, of course, also made much worse be the fact that I am incredibly oversensitive and constantly convinced that everyone hates me. But that’s just because I hate myself so much.
I don’t like stereotyping people, because I hate it when people do that to me, but I have to say that driving instructors are a very peculiar type of people. Quite frankly, many of them are just plain weird or complete assholes. And mine was no exception. Well, I feel a bit bad for saying that, because he taught me almost everything I know about driving and he was very patient with me. But unfortunately, you can’t escape who you are, and I can’t escape the fact that he is an asshole. He was racist, homophobic, sexist, and crass. Now, I can still take the crassness, because I’m not exactly an angel myself, but I hate discrimination. But, I was stuck with him. Fortunately my experience in theatre has taught me how to work with and even kiss people that I would much rather hang on a tree and burn, so I was able to get through the sessions without speeding into a tree in hopes that he would die. I did, however, almost smash into trees and many other things on various occasions, but that was simply because I didn’t know what I was doing.
I was hopeless. I had to take a sedative almost every time I had a session coming up, because I would end up shaking uncontrollably. Whenever I knew that I had a session the next day I wouldn’t be able to sleep that night. It was an absolute nightmare for the first few months. But gradually, it got better. I’m a rather slow learner, but once I learn master something, I don’t forget it. I have the memory of an elephant, which is both a blessing and a curse. After a long struggle, I finally started getting the hang of driving. My driving instructor decided that I was ready to book my test. I finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel. Little did I know that it was the Gautrain, speeding with every intention of flattening me.
The first time I went for the test in Centurion, I (you guessed it) failed. The car rolled forward and the guy who was testing me shat himself. Once again, I don’t want to discriminate, but it seems like most of the people who supervise these tests are heartless psychopaths who enjoy crushing other people’s dreams. It didn’t bother me that much though, because most people don’t get their license the first time and at the time I had only been driving for about five months. My driving instructor was slightly annoyed with me, but his mere presence often annoyed me, so I felt like we were even.
The second time I went for the test, I was a lot more determined. After my first attempt I felt more familiar with the place and more confident in my driving skills. The pressure from my friends and family was also mounting. I know that they meant it well, but every time someone told me that this time I was going to get my license, it also kind of meant that they expected that from me. And of course, I failed. This time it was much harder to accept. My driving instructor was pissed and he wasn’t trying to hide it in any way. I felt humiliated, but I also felt really angry. Sure, I can’t drive as well as him, but there are many things that I can do that he can’t. If I was really so stupid and useless, I don’t think that I would have passed my second year of college with ten distinctions. But I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many awards or achievements you get, if you don’t have the self esteem to back it up, it doesn’t work. And I’ve never been a terribly confident person. But I’ve realized that being around people who damage my confidence even more isn’t healthy. So, I decided that it was time to let my driving instructor go. He was kind of like a tampon. He helped me when I needed him, but then he became awful and it was time to get rid of him.
The third time I went for the test, the pressure was reaching boiling point. I had recently gotten my car. I also had a theatre festival coming up and I was really hoping that I wouldn’t have to ask people to take me to theatres. I decided to go to Waltloo, because it was much closer, and rumor had it that the people there were nicer. That rumor was BULLSHIT. This time I honestly didn’t make a mistake, but the woman who was testing me decided that I parked too close to the pavement (what the fuck?) and she failed me. I was crushed. I felt completely defeated. I usually try to find humor in these situations (mostly because I’m a cynical bastard with a terrible sense of humor), but this time I couldn’t laugh about it. I couldn’t laugh about anything.
But, I am one resilient motherfucker, so I bounced back like the rubber ball that I am.
The fourth time I tried, I was honestly over this shit. I was very nervous, but simply being alive makes me nervous, so it really wasn’t anything new. I realized that there was no way that I could guarantee that I was going to pass. I know that I can drive, but I also know that being able to do something doesn’t mean that people are going to acknowledge it. Because many people are assholes. So, I simply went and did it.
And this time I passed.
It still feels like a dream. I was very fortunate in the fact that I actually got a nice guy this time and he treated me fairly. I expected it to be an overwhelming joy, but to be honest, it all just seems so silly now. For eight months of my life I cried and cursed and probably aged about ten years in advance… and now it’s all over. And despite how impossible it seems, everything in life, good or bad, eventually comes to an end. And that’s a good thing.
So, to conclude this incredibly lengthy post, I want to say that whatever is happening in your life now is going to end at some point. If it’s something bad, it will end and you will be happy again. If it’s something good, you need to appreciate it and take it in because it won’t be there forever. And in the end, you are going to end too. And none of this trivial shit is going to matter anymore. So relax. If someone as unstable and unconfident as me can do it, then you can do it too. Because you’re awesome. Well, I don’t really know that. You could be an asshole too. But even assholes deserve happiness.