The trouble with beginnings is there’s a lot to worry about. From fear of the unknown, to anxiety about new, unfamiliar things, to not knowing if what you’re doing is right- it can all build up and be incredibly mentally exhausting. 

I’m sat here currently writing this blog, having spent the morning steadying myself. Inhaling deeply and exhaling loudly doesn’t seem to be working though, because I can still feel the bubbling pit of anxiety in my stomach and a tightness in my chest. 

I’ve had a lot of new beginnings recently. I started relearning how to drive (I passed a few years ago- first time around I might add) but got my first car a few weeks ago and it’s only been a couple of days since I’ve been driving independently.

 Even though driving itself isn’t technically new to me, going through all the processes related to driving is, and the responsibility of not messing up weighs heavily on my mind. There’s literally so much to think about; from watching pedestrians on the pavements, to changing gears at rapid speed, to leaving a gap of ‘1 car length’ whenever you stop at a traffic light, it’s an awful lot to think about. Friends and family assure me that this period of hypervigilance will only last a month or two before all that’s left is a ‘driver’s husk’  or a ‘road zombie’ (terms they coined, I’m not even exactly sure what they mean). 

I hit the car into stone barriers early this morning. I thought I swiped my card properly and attempted to move forward before I crashed unceremoniously into two absolutely colossal stone pillars. My seat jerked forward and I would’ve slammed headfirst into the steering wheel, had it not been for my seatbelt snapping back at the last moment to root me back to safety. The tragic spectacle was awful and for all my dramatic ravings (I must have literally been going 5mph), it really did feel like the world was going in slow motion. My eyes pricked with tears and my mouth felt horribly dry. 

For the more experienced driver, this whole collision might not even have been a cause for concern- they might have popped on their handbrake, checked the front of the car to see if it was fine and driven off calmly. But in my defence, it was my first actual ‘accident’ and the car had made a horrific metallic lurch that made me instantly think the whole bumper had been knocked off. It hadn’t, thank goodness, the bonnet had popped out, but that was soon an easy fix.

It’s a strange thing, relearning how to do something that you could do so well before. You’d already overcome your initial fears and anxieties and dealt with mental and physical barriers at the time, but the notion of forgetting how you handled such challenges can be just as daunting as having to face those difficulties all over again. In that moment, the whole situation felt entirely alien, yet tinged with familiarity. 

Regardless of any new beginning or situation you find yourself in, feelings of anxiety and fear always remain the same. If there’s one thing you can count on in a distressing position, it’s that you’ll already have experienced how you feel; the sweaty palms, the quick gulps of air, the rapid blinking to steady your vision. Strangely, all nerve-wracking situations, be they new or not, are clearly marked with recognisable feelings, which is incredibly ironic as you’re only feeling that way due to the unfamiliarity of the circumstances you’re in. 

Beginnings can feel so awful until you hit (literally in my case) that first hurdle. Once you’ve overcome that, you can recognise that with practice, those familiar feelings can be controlled so the next time you find yourself in a new or anxious place, you can at least try to manage how familiar feelings of worry and doubt, in unfamiliar situations. 

For me, I’m going to keep working on my driving. Though I’ve got everything crossed in hope that I won’t bump into those evil stone gargoyle-like barriers again, the situation has oddly helped me work through my concerns about driving. Now the initial hurdle is out the way, I can focus on what’s to come. With some time and practise- who knows? I could turn out to be the next Lewis Hamilton. 

Mubeenah Waheed  

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