Is It Worth It?

My friends, girlfriend, and especially family keep harassing me about when I'm going to try and get my license again. I have a bunch of very reasonable excuses ready for discussions like that, but the bottom line is a resounding **** NO. The idea of driving terrifies me, and they just don't get it.

The most annoying part is that I was pretty decent at driving. I could do all the manoeuvres that they tested you on, like parallel parking and whatever. I sank a few hundred dollars into lessons, and the instructor was pretty confident that I'd pass first shot. My father even gave me this dingy little car to drive when I passed. Unfortunately, that never happened.

I'm pretty sure I had my first panic attack when I went to take the test. I was terrified way beyond the point of normal nerves... I kept feeling like I was going to throw up or faint. My heart was beating like crazy, and it took all the effort I had to get in the car with the instructor. I felt like I was going to die, but not from anything specific -- everything about the scenario felt like impending doom, and I was overwhelmed with a general sense of fear.
Needless to say, I failed that test. My anxiety was through the roof, and I ended up blacking out while driving and missing a stop sign. The instructor slammed his set of breaks on me, and luckily it was at an empty 4-way stop. Automatic fail.

I tried the test two more times, and both of them went better than the first. The second one went perfectly, but I didn't do enough right shoulder checks and was failed. On the third, a truck made room for me to merge on the highway but then changed its mind and cut me off -- although I hadn't begun merging yet, it scared the instructor and he made to touch the wheel to stop me. Another automatic fail. Even though those tests weren't nearly as bad, the damage was done from the first one. My anxiety only got worse. The days leading up to the tests were hell. Every time I had to get behind the wheel I was a panicky mess, shaking and hyperventilating. The stress and anxiety was horrible, and although I've always had anxiety problems, I'd never felt anything that bad before. By the end of the third test, my nerves were shot so. I told everyone I was taking a short improvement break, but really I was calling it quits for my own sake.

All that happened about 5 years ago now, and the thought of actually stepping up and trying to get my license again fills me with dread. When I was a teenager, I was pissed at myself for being unable to do something that I knew I was capable of -- something as petty as "anxiety" seemed like a stupid thing to hold me back. But even now I know it'll be just as bad, and I don't really want to put myself through that hell again. My girlfriend really wants to teach me how to drive, but even being in the driver's seat makes me start shaking and my anxiety levels skyrocket. I know people like my mother looks down on me for giving up on getting my license. I feel like I'm trapped in an unending childhood because I failed at one of the crucial modern-day rites of passage. But despite how annoying it is to rely on others for rides, or having to endure bus weirdos, I'm still not convinced that driving is worth the pain. I don't think I'm ever going to attempt driving again unless I have someone with a LOT of patience and time to dedicate to coaching me through it.
22-25, M
May 4, 2012