x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Driving out the mystique

Until you actually take the wheel of a car in your first lesson, driving seems a daunting activity, something for other people.

I am on the cusp of what could be called a quarter life crisis: at 22, I'm not a teenager anymore but still not a fully-fledged adult. It is an odd time where I find my obsession with all things Hello Kitty contrasting starkly with the painfully intellectual existentialist discussions I have with friends. University is well and truly over, and my first foray into the "real world" has just begun.

Gone are the days of comfortable unemployment and everyone laughing off your laziness because you are a student; the time has officially come for me to enter the daunting adult world in all its humdrum glory and multiple shades of grey.

To add insult to injury during this awkward age, it seems as though everyone is bent on quizzing me about all aspects of my life. A question that has come up many times in the past few years during these interrogations is: "So, are you driving yet?" Gasps of shock and horror ensue when I reply with a "No", which I try to quell with "reasonable" excuses for why I don't have my licence yet.

I used to think that driving was a testosterone-fuelled activity and decided that I would not express any interest in it until it was an absolutely necessary requirement. I also had an irrational fear of being in total control of a vehicle; the magnitude of the responsibility for my own safety as well as that of others just seemed too grand for little old me.

Living in London for the past five years also made it easier for me to continue my avoidance of driving. The world was my proverbial pre-paid Oyster travel card as I hopped on buses and trains, relying solely on public transport to get around. However, being back in the Emirates has forced me to appreciate the value of being able to drive and the freedom and convenience that comes with it.

After an impromptu driving lesson with my father in an emptying parking lot, soundtracked by Michael Jackson's Bad album, I realised that driving is not such a scary affair after all. By the time Another Part of Me came on, I was doing doughnuts around lampposts, convinced I was a Mario Andretti reincarnate.

As I begin my driving lessons and slowly gain confidence behind the wheel, I wonder why the concept of driving seemed so elusive to me for so long. The reality is, driving is a basic and easily attainable skill. My refusal to resign myself to a dependent fate of being a passenger-seat princess forever made me decide to force myself to conquer it, fear and intimidation be damned, and led me to realise that the only thing that ever stood in my way was my own mental limitations.

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