Editor’s note: Today’s post comes courtesy of Jessica, a young woman from South Africa who struggles with driving anxiety.
So, here’s the thing: I cannot drive. This isn’t because I haven’t bothered to learn or that I’m physically incapable of sliding into the driver’s seat. No, it’s because I have a driving phobia. And yes, that is a real thing. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to explain this phobia.
People tend to be more sympathetic towards things they understand. Which is why I often find myself lying to people about why I don’t drive. It’s not that I enjoy lying or don’t want people to know the truth, I’m just tired of the blank stares I receive when I say that driving is one of the most terrifying things you can ask me to do.
These are the five main lies I find myself repeating and, well, people believe them more than they do when I use the word “anxiety.”
1). I’m just really bad it
However, I’m not simply “bad at driving.” I can actually drive. And after years of lessons, I certainly should be able to. The thing is that sometimes I can be a good driver, but then there comes a moment when I hear crunching metal and freeze. I picture injuries, blood, and even lifeless bodies. Once that happens, I can no longer drive. I don’t know what to do next, which pedal is which and how to turn the damn steering wheel.
2). I crash cars
It’s true, I’ve had two terrible accidents. On both occasions, I was lucky to not have injured or even killed the person sitting next to me. But I don’t choose not to drive because I’ve had those accidents. I had those accidents because of my anxiety. Because of that moment when I freeze and can’t remember how to handle a vehicle.
3). I’ve failed to get my license eight times
I have failed eight times. But I honestly think it’s because I don’t want to pass. I’ve never even passed the parking test and made it onto the road. I can park. There are no other cars in that scenario. After years of trying, I am starting to realize that I wouldn’t have chosen to take those tests if it wasn’t such a big deal to everyone else.
4). It’s just too expensive to own a car
Can’t afford a car. Can’t afford any more driving lessons. The price of fuel is insane, right? People who drive know this to be true and therefore it’s a lie they’ll easily believe.
5). I don’t drive because I don’t want to
People find it easier to understand the concept of not wanting to do something rather than not being able to do something because of anxiety. I simply tell them I prefer to get around via an app than drive myself anywhere. It’s just easier to let people think I’m lazy than try explain that terrifying moment when the fear takes over and I can’t recall which side of the road I’m supposed to be on.
At the end of the day, I don’t lie for my sake. I do it because people refuse to accept the truth: I have a driving phobia. And yes, that’s a real thing.
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