DRIVE AND AMBITION
I have always taken great pleasure in doing things that I didn’t think I could do before, in doing things that other people tell me I can’t do or shouldn’t be able to do. It makes me even happier when I see other people with disabilities doing the same thing. It’s a big deal when we can prove our doubters wrong and defy their expectations of what people with disabilities can do with their lives. Sometimes when I’m a bit down on myself, I need to remind myself to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk,” and to continue leading by the example I have set for others.
I had a bad experience driving a go-kart when I was 12. I started out okay as I went up and down a hill and over a bridge, but then I wound up going off the track soon after because I somehow had my feet on both the gas and the brakes at the same time. It was kind of embarrassing and a bit discouraging. Since that day, I wasn’t too sure I wanted to learn how to drive in real life. I didn’t think I could handle it.
In 2005, I took the written test for the first time and passed. At the time, my driving experience was limited mostly to empty parking lots on the weekends, and I was having a hard time staying between the lines as I went in and out of parking spaces. It was a lot for me to take in, and I felt like there was a lot I needed to pay attention to while I was driving. It’s worth noting that my mom observed I had a bit more confidence when I drove her truck that wasn’t there when I was behind the wheel of a smaller vehicle. Ultimately, I didn’t put in nearly as much driving time as I needed before my permit expired. I didn’t think I was ready.
For years after that, not much changed. But it would come up in conversation from time to time that I should think about driving and how it would present more opportunities for me. I’ll admit, I had some concerns. It wasn’t so much my own driving I was worried about, although that was certainly a part of it. I was more concerned about everyone else on the road. Dealing with traffic where I’m from can be challenging for anyone, doubly so if you’re not familiar with the area. I’ve seen some crazy drivers out and around, even in the parking lot of my local Wal-Mart. You have got to have your head on a swivel, especially in a place like that, because some people just aren’t paying attention to what’s going on around them.
It’s one thing to be realistic when we evaluate our strengths and weaknesses. But perhaps I was being overly cautious all this time. Sometimes we need to learn not to be afraid to take chances. It’s also worth noting that I don’t really have very many people in my family that I can consistently depend on besides my mom and dad. I know there will come a time when they won’t be around anymore, and they’ve been encouraging me to be as self-sufficient as I possibly can be before then, so that’s had an impact on some decisions I’ve made recently.
With their support, I took a driver’s ed course this summer with 30 hours of online classroom instruction and 10 hours of driving time. I took the written test again, and I got my permit again. Along the way, I realized I’ve made significant progress since the last time I had my permit back in 2005. At this point, all that’s left for me to do now is to practice for the road test, and if I can pass it, then I’ll have my driver’s license. Wish me luck.
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