Driving. It’s a skill one must learn to really know what it means to be free. Completely free to travel anywhere and anytime. The journey towards taking the license in Sweden has been a long and bumpy road since 2012. I kept on pushing myself to overcome my struggles with eyesight after laser surgery to finally be on the final road to actually taking the license. It’s never going to be too late. There have been people in ages ranging from 18 to 55 in my classes. You learn about yourself and how you react to certain situations and stress while doing the intensive driving classes. Let’s dig deep into what it meant for me, especially to be back in my hometown Göteborg on the West coast of Sweden to drive everyday for two weeks. It’s not only been fun to drive, it’s been challenging, strengthening, exciting but also melancholic. Let get into why.
The driving school is close to where my parents live, it’s the same neighborhood I have grown up in and lived in up until I was 19. The classes started with a session where I was to show my current skills in driving so we started off at a parking lot and drove out onto the roads in the area. It went pretty fine from the get go. I only needed to adjust to a new car which I wasn’t used to drive in. A Volvo XC40, Diesel. Much easier to find the pull position and the different gears were also easier to adapt to. This is the car I will use on the day of my driving test, which is currently dated to 7th of September. If all goes well and I pass the other practical and theoretical tests I will go on and do the test in Sept.
When driving through every single street of where I grew up and close to each of my three first schools was more emotional and affecting me more than I had expected to. I only chose to drive with this school and this area because it’s convenient and close to home when I stay in Göteborg, little did I know that it was going to take me on a journey down the memories and feelings of the past. The further into the first week we got, the more we started to drive downtown and in areas I hadn’t been to in years, since I last lived in this city. We were joking about the fact that I am sightseeing by car in my own town and it was really a much nicer experience to drive this course than I could have ever imagined. I thought it would only be difficult and hard, but it’s been equally as rewarding for my mental health. Pushing myself when there have been some days when things started turning backwards and not going as I thought, how you learn to let go of mistakes you do while driving so it doesn’t affect the rest of the driving. The most impressive thing was how the driving instructor without knowing was able to know how I was struggling with letting go and putting way too high expectations on myself which were causing unnecessary hurdles that I needed to crush before I can succeed. He would sometimes just tell me when I went quiet and didn’t say a word, “just let go of that bad past experience, I can see that you’re going over it in your head and it will affect your driving, just let it go.”
It was amazing to see how someone is able to read me so well without knowing me.
Towards the end of the driving course there were just a couple of incidents where I wasn’t always able to think of all the different things at the same time. Driving into a highway where the roads are merging and I need to get into one of the lanes while there’s already traffic on the road and coming in with a speed of 70 km/h. I almost crashed into a car because everyone kept changing their lane at that spot and things were happening too fast at a very fast speed. I kept on being hard on myself after that and wasn’t able to let it go as fast as the other things, so I had to take a deep breath, keep driving and talk about other things to take my mind off it. He was telling me that I need to stop expecting myself to become a perfect driver and that I am putting these super ambitious expectations that no one can meet on myself. I felt as if he saw through so many of my past struggles that I have been through, not only in this situation but also when I study or work. I just needed to be more nice towards myself and what I have already accomplished. Every time he asked me how I felt it has gone today with the driving I was always critical over the tiniest things.
All in all, after two weeks my skills are on a level where I only need to drive more on my own at home for some weeks to let it all sink in. Hopefully I will get to the level which is required for a final practical test in the beginning of September. Let’s keep fingers crossed!
Peace and Love,
I started out my journey to take my driver’s license for cars in 2012 with a driving school. I came to a good level to take the exam but I took a break to do my LASER eye surgery in Dec that year. Due to the many complications and scarring I didn’t have the vision to be able to practise driving anymore and it wasn’t possible to correct the problems with any glasses or contact lenses. I put the plans on taking the driver’s license on the side to focus on getting my vision back on track by doing several touch-up surgeries in the following years.
I restarted my journey to take the license by practicing privately last year and had aimed to take the license this year. The process of taking a license in Sweden is really good and a secure way of getting the license with the most regulations to make sure people really completely know the rules before they are allowed to drive. There are two theoretical parts, one risk assessment course and another theory exam for everything that you need to know regarding traffic rules etc. There’s another practical exam where you drive on a man-made slippery road for a few hours to test your ability to maneuver the car when you lose control due to ice or snow on the road. When you pass all these smaller tests, you will then go for the major practical driving test where you will show your skills. You either choose to drive with the car that the driving school has, and the one you’ve gotten used to drive or you can drive with a car they have at the test center. They prefer that you come with the driving school so that’s the option I have chosen. The driving school has to first pass you and consider your skills to match the expectations of passing an exam.
I am currently in the middle of an intensive 2 week course where I drive every day with my teacher and study the theory on the side. It’s actually going really well and I can feel that I am progressing more and more each day I take classes with my teacher. He’s a really good and very structured teacher and exactly what I was looking for in a teacher. I am taking my test and all classes in my home town, Gothenburg, Sweden. It’s the best decision I have made when it comes to taking my license, because all the streets are so much more familiar than any other city. I love this city more when I am now driving through my old neighborhoods and observing it from a whole new perspective. I can’t wait to get the license so I can drive wherever and whenever I want. I am looking forward to that level of freedom that a driver’s license can truly give you. You don’t know what you’re missing until you have it, kinda thing.
I will keep you posted here on my progress as it continues over the next couple of weeks. Catch me on Instagram @mskimmisandhu or @moon_over_mumbai (for poetry posts).
Peace and Love,