Driving past failure

by Amanda Gonzalez

The moment my truck’s rear tire struck the curb, I knew I had not passed. I felt my eyes immediately well with tears, embarrassed that I failed what many would consider an easy test.

Although somewhat trivial, I was devastated to have failed my driving test. Later, alone in my uncontrollable crying, I asked myself why I was feeling so miserable. It was not like I needed my driver’s license immediately, I rationalized. It was not until reflecting deeper on my emotions that I realized the true source of my sadness. I did not necessarily lament the loss of the opportunity to drive. What I craved was the reassurance that I was capable of passing, and to know I would not fail.

In the weeks leading up to that driving test, I had become increasingly apprehensive. Even with hours of practice, it was evident that driving would not be something that would come easily to me. I had even contemplated cancelling my test due to my fear of not passing.

My fear of failure has always been present, however, this experience demonstrated my reluctance to take risks in which I was unsure of my success. Whether it was conversing with a stranger, applying for a job, or taking a difficult AP course, I often chose a route of certitude rather than unpredictability. In school, I let my doubts control decisions I made about my future. I am academically inclined towards humanities, therefore a career or major in STEM was eliminated; I was not a math person. This was my mindset.

Reflecting on the failure of my driving test demonstrated how I was allowing fear to control my life. I asked myself: what opportunities had eluded me due to my failure to challenge myself?

With a new determination, I decided the solution to overcoming this fear was to face it directly. I made the decision to not quit but retake my driving test. I recognized that failing to pass the first time did not mean I was not capable; it simply meant I had to work harder.

With extra lessons from a local driving school and countless hours behind the wheel, I was eventually able to improve my skills. Returning to the Department of Motor Vehicles incited traumatic feelings within me as I prepared to conquer my life-long phobia. To my excitement, I passed my test and received my driver’s license.

Though a driving test may seem inconsequential, this experience demonstrates how failure can become a valuable experience. It serves as an opportunity to reevaluate myself and to seek improvements. I know now that I should not fear rejection, because without it, I would not feel the need to better myself. Rather than settle for a life of certainty, I have decided to take risks, even if they end in failure.

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