I'm Ashamed to Admit I'm Afraid of Driving Angie Grace

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like to share too much of my personal life online, but I feel the need to confess something that I haven’t even shared with some of my friends and family: I’m afraid to drive. Let me start off by saying that I’m not completely afraid to drive, because I do have to from time to time. And I have to say that I have always been afraid to drive. I got my driver’s license after I was an adult and a wife and mom, so I feel behind my peers. Most of the people I know started driving in high school.

I didn’t grow up with parents who drove, so it was never a necessity to me. I lived in Chicago and took public transportation everywhere I needed to go. On top of that, my mother always talked about why she never got her license, stating that she was too nervous to ever do so. After I got married and had a baby, my husband drove everywhere. He got a pretty good job where he got a vehicle for work, leaving our brand new car in the parking lot of our apartment building every day, which is what prompted me to want to drive in the first place. Being in the house with a small baby every day, looking out the window at our mostly unused car made no sense to me, so I decided to finally get my license.

Now let me share another bit of information I never told anyone: I barely passed the driver’s test! I may have messed up a few times, and parallel parking was not something I was good at… at all. After I got my license, I drove very small distances. I lived in the small Chicago suburb of Chicago Ridge, and I would only drive back and forth to the kids’ daycare, school and the grocery store. Once we moved to Los Angeles, I knew I would have to drive. Everyone drives in Los Angeles! You sort of have to to get around. When I lived in Chicago, there were times I drove long distances, but I was extremely nervous about it. I once got lost driving back from my agent’s office on the north side. I somehow ended up on the west side! Another time I got lost is when I was coming back from Second City in the Old Town area. My GPS kept re-routing me and I couldn’t find my way back to the Stevenson expressway! (If you’re from Chicago, you know how ridiculous this sounds.)

Not everyone has to drive, but I need to! I have three kids and I have to get my daughter to school. There’s a big, overwhelming fear of driving and ending up in an accident with my daughters in the car. I hadn’t been driving as much lately because my husband has been taking the car to work since he started a new job. He drops my oldest daughter off at school before work in the mornings, then I take the twins in a Lyft to go get her in the afternoons. I don’t even go out by myself after my husband gets home, though I should. And with being a stand-up comedian, I would be doing way more stand-up if I could drive myself to shows and open mics! I’m thankful to have a best friend who is also a stand-up comedian and doesn’t live too far away who picks me up and we go together, but I need to be able to drive us sometimes.

Making matters worse, a good friend of mine was almost killed in a car accident just two weeks ago after we hung out together. That made me even more afraid of driving, especially on the freeways! I’m so thankful he’s okay, but his car was completely totaled.

I’ve been afraid to own up to my fear. I’m 33 and afraid to drive, and to some, that probably sounds silly. When friends invite me to places, a lot of the time I turn them down if the drive is too far. I never tell people it’s because I’m scared. If a friend needs a ride somewhere, I don’t automatically tell them “I can’t, I’m really scared to drive on the 405″.

I believe my fear, here in LA, is mostly based on things I’ve seen on the news. I constantly see police chases, car crashes, drunk drivers, and people driving off of cliffs accidentally. Some would say “don’t watch the damn news so much!”. Yes, I probably shouldn’t. But in the meantime, I know there’s only one way to overcome this: drive more! I teach my daughters that fear is okay, it’s alright to be afraid of things, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you need to do. I’m afraid when my husband drives with us up on Mulholland Drive, which most people know is this winding-around-a-mountain road through the hills in L.A. and is scary as crap! It makes me nervous, but the views are unbelievable! I’ll go up there and just deal with the fear, but it’s worth it. Learning how to overcome my fears is important, as I’m a role model to three young girls. I never want them to be too afraid to drive around this beautiful city.

Have you ever had to overcome a fear that was hindering your life?

 Featured image via ShutterStock

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  1. It’s so nice to see that I’m not alone!! This actually makes me feel a lot better.

    • Awww, I’m glad it helped! I’m seeing, since I wrote this article, that there seems to be a lot of people who are afraid. I’m trying to work through it.

  2. I got my license when I was 16 and that year my family drove to Indiana from Anaheim, I drove a lot on that trip and love to drive. But my mom lived her whole life without driving. Many fears in life and everyone has something

  3. Im 22 yo and I haven’t gotten my license, nor have I ever had my permit!! woops

  4. Ha! See, I am not weird. I should shove this post into my friends and family’s faces – I am not alone! I didn’t get my license until I was 21. I think it was pity on the State Troopers part. I was in the Air Force at the time & in uniform. She only made me drive around the block. Now I am 33. Living in Massachusetts which has its reputation for bad drivers. I have never been in an accident, nor been pulled over – however, my driving fear is what I most talk to my therapist about. I drive if I have to, but its seriously hindering my social life because I don’t want to drive anywhere. I figure once I have kids I will have to suck it up. In the meantime, back to therapy.

  5. I am 32 and I’ve never had my license! I’ve had my permit three times and I never go through with it. I’m terrified! I do things I’m scared of all the time, and I consider myself a very independent person; the piece of the puzzle missing is getting around by myself.
    I’ve lived in SF, Chicago and my small college town in Arcata where driving was not a necessity. Now I’m about to move to LA myself, and I know, I have to do this, but man, I do not want to. Thank you for sharing, It’s great to know I’m not alone, and if I just take the test, it doesn’t mean I have to like driving, or do it, but I need to face this fear.

  6. I thought I was the only one. I am now studying abroad in Spain and I always take public transportation for obvious reasons. But my mom told me before coming here that once I am back I will have to take the wheel. But hey, coming here knowing no one but my roommates and a few people are giving me the strength to know how far I can go. So by the end of this semester I hope most of my fears will be gone and I will be prepared to face one of my major fears: the highway.

  7. I am 22 and also afraid to drive. I went through drivers ed and even bought myself a used car but have not found the courage to get my license. My mom is very supportive but I feel terrible about her having to drive me 30 minutes to work every day. I get anxiety attacks now even when I’m in a car regardless of me driving. Trying to explain having anxiety about driving to people is never easy, and not all of my close friends are supportive and understanding about me not driving. Pressure from friends and acquaintances to drive only makes me feel worse. Thank you for sharing this because for once I don’t feel so alone.

  8. Not only am I afraid of driving, I am 34 years old and have never had my license. And I have no plans to do so ever. I don’t feel that my life is lacking without it, and I refuse to allow the world to tell me otherwise. Most people do not understand this, but I don’t really care. The only person I need to answer to at the end of the day is me, and I am good with my decision!

  9. I am also afraid of driving and being in cars in general. I used to drive all the time but moved to Seattle and got rid of my car and didnt drive for years. My boyfriend drives us everywhere, and I’ve been slowly overcoming my fear by making short two mile trips to work…but I can’t do the freeway, or driving longer distances in the rain…and when I’m sitting in the passenger seat I’m also afraid, especially on the highway in traffic. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one.

  10. Angie, this blog post could not have come at a better time for me…I am also 33, but am so afraid of driving, I have yet to get my license. I have two little girls and its the same for me. I would love to drive myself to book club and not have to wait around for my husband to do something like grocery shopping which he hates. That’s love for sure. I would love to take the kids out and about and drive my big kid to preschool especially during the AZ heat that’s coming soon. I know its a control issue, and I’m so afraid of what might happen with my children in the car and me without time to react. I understand completely.

    • Thanks! I think it’s important to know how to drive, but it’s not the end of the world if you can’t, or only drive when necessary. I only drive when necessary, but living in L.A., I would get around much better if I fought through the fear.

  11. Thank you for writing this!!! I’m also afraid of driving. I’m 23 and I don’t have my license. I hate how people judge me for it because it’s not something I can really control. I only drove during driver’s ed in high school and I was always extremely nervous, so I messed up a lot. I live in a Chicago suburb too, but I always need someone to drive me places. :|
    When I think about the future and having kids, I realize that someday I need to get my license. But I can’t see how I can get through learning how to drive all over again.

    • I think it’s probably easier to get over the fear of driving, but a lot of people don’t have their licenses and learn how to get through life on public transportation, cabs, etc. Thanks for commenting!