The first place I learned how to drive a car was the same place I learned how to ride a bike. New set of wheels, same coach: my dad. Having grown up in a college town, the campus became exclusively ours in the summertime. Without the students around, the roads were clear and the parking lots empty, providing the perfect platform for our driving education. My dad’s go-to spot for guaranteed vacancy was a large lot behind a couple of older dorms that sat on the outskirts of campus. Before taking my first slow laps around the empty lot, I felt comforted by the cyclical nature of time, clicking my seat belt with the same nerves as my plastic floral helmet. In both memories, my dad is encouraging me by my side with a bright smile and reassuring hand, reminding me of the most important points:
One step at a time
When you try anything for the first time and are overwhelmed with nerves, all you have to do is remember the first step. Buckle up. With a simple click, your mind will adjust and remember what it already knows.
Don’t rush, take it slow
It’s better to do something right even if it takes a little more time. It’s better for your safety AND for your sanity, no one likes to make dumb mistakes and pay for it later.
Follow the rules
Even if you’re tempted to push the limits, ask yourself: is it worth it? Go the speed limit, turn on your blinker. You can prevent accidents without any additional effort: just simply do what you’re supposed to.
You’ll always face distractions, but stay focused on what’s important. You wouldn’t want to bump into the car in front of you because you were too busy adjusting your sunroof or turning up your music and didn’t see it come to a stop.
Be considerate of others
Look around, you’re not the only one on the road. Let people in when it’s crowded, give them a wave if they do the same for you. Treat other drivers how you want to be treated and the road will be a nicer (and safer) place to be
Sometimes, you will make a mistake. You won’t realize how fast you’re going or how close a car is until it’s too late. Turn these negative experiences around by learning from them and recognizing areas where you can improve.
No matter what situation you find yourself in, trust that you have the knowledge to handle it. It’s easy to feel scared or uncertain when you’re handed independence: but remember you earned it and wouldn’t have gotten it without mastering the materials to do so.
Whether you learned how to drive on the highway, a dirt road, or an old vacant lot- remember who took the time to be there for you. For me, that was my dad. Happy Father’s Day to all the other dads that were there for you too (on a road or not).