What Failing My Driver’s Test Taught Me About Persistence

Failing once isn’t easy. Twice is more than enough. But three times is unnerving. This is the story of how I failed my driver’s test three times, and how I learned to deal with it. Get ready for a bumpy ride.

Everything was going so well. I had taken my driver’s ed course and been one of the “cool guys” in the class. I was always good with memory and standardized tests, so the written section of the driver’s test was fairly straightforward. I got a couple of answers wrong, but still passed with a few additional wrong answers to spare before I would come close to failing.

Everything seemed like such a breeze for those first few months. But little did I know how much it would change so suddenly. I practiced driving with my Dad fairly frequently. I made sure to listen to all of the instructions my teacher gave me in the fairly informal behind the wheel sessions. But when the big day came for the first test, I froze. I was one of the last people in my year to get my driver’s license and I felt the pressure.

It felt more insurmountable than anything I experienced while playing sports or taking big tests. After all, this was the “real world” with real families and people driving around the same streets as me.

The entire first test was a surreal experience. I had my Mom drive me to the DMV and drop me off and leave thinking I’d pass the test with flying colors and be able to drive to work shortly afterwards.

I got in the car and started driving. At first there were no issues, but as I drove I began to panic. My book smarts began to give way to nerves and I swerved across the road. Things reached a boiling point when I crossed the road and moved into the wrong lane for a moment. The instructor was clearly not happy.

All of these things happened and it still came down to parking the car back at the DMV. All I had to do was cleanly park the car and I would pass. However, I had not focused on that as much as I should have and did not park cleanly. The instructor had no choice but to fail me because of this technicality. It was a blow to my ego and sense of self. I had to call my mom and tell her the news. She had to be in the car with me to drive to work because I’d failed.

My second attempt was when I really looked at the mistakes I’d made from the first. The whole thing seemed like a blur at the time, but I knew the tactics I had done incorrectly. My Dad helped me to be better at parking and the first test nerves had seemed to calm down. I came into the second test quiet but confident.

The second test went about as well as it could have gone until the parallel parking section. Anyone trying to get their license knows this is one of the most annoying sections of the entire test, and I just didn’t have the right techniques to implement the maneuver properly. It didn’t help that this instructor was not nearly as lenient on the rules as the first one. I felt like the breaks I might have gotten with the first guy just weren’t there with the new instructor. In the end, I failed again.

At this point, I looked inward and thought many negative things. Being a 16 or 17 year old without a driver’s license is not exactly “cool” as you might say. But I knew that I could eventually do it.

The third test was the most nerve wracking of them all. It was a big moment because I didn’t want to start the process over. Essentially, my nerves got the best of me and I just didn’t drive like I normally would have. The consequences of failing for a third time were just too much for me to handle.

All the while, I remained persistent that I would eventually find success. I studied hard in school, worked out, and watched videos for help. I talked to family members. Many of them had experienced these kinds of failures.

Everyone told me that eventually I would pull thru. I had to go through a few more steps but in the end it made me a better driver than I was beforehand. The doubt I had in my head after failing something three times was erased when I finally passed the test. I called my Mom and told her I would drive her to a baseball game far away with an official license.

The entire experience just made me realize that not everyone can always be perfect. The hard work and learning to cope with not completely great results helped me grow and build on myself. The only way I would have achieved this was to continue to work hard and not let the negatives bring me down. So as they might say, drive safely!

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