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

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=761662019 Kristy Fleming

    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.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000920807036 Angie Grace

      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!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1380021309 Christina Martinez

    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.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000920807036 Angie Grace

      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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1021560072 Kayla Baird

    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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000095144830 Maryah Borst

    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!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1234893739 Kelly Connelly

    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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=622910331 Diana Martinez

    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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1399869982 Jenny Bradley

    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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509363508 Candice McDonald

    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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000750696601 Tammi Laura

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=534778359 Paul Poling

    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

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=525554417 Brittany Canovas

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

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000920807036 Angie Grace

      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.

  • Steff

    I’m 20 and still have no license. Sometimes I feel so pathetic. I always think, “How come I’m not like everyone else. Everyone is so excited to drive and get their license.” I wish I felt that way too. I’m very anxious when it comes to driving. All I can do is pray to God that nothing bad happens. I even turn on KLove station to relax me. But I had a near death experience while driving that kind of traumatized me. I’ve gotten a permit twice but never learned how to drive confidently enough to take the driving test. It’s comforting to know that there are people out there who are afraid of driving too. I’m just glad you at least got a driver’s license. I’m just hoping I can get over it. There are several school job positions I want to apply for they require a driver’s license. So it’s so stressful thinking about why I can’t find driving fun like most.

  • Crystal

    I’m 35 and have never had my license. I’ve always hated driving and avoided it when I was younger. I’ve now been a single mom of 2 for the last 5 years and have tried here and there to drive on back roads, but I really don’t have anyone to drive with consistently. I have friends that have offered to help me, but then when I take them up on it, they are only able to do it once in a blue moon or they’ve only let me drive once. I wish I could get myself a small manageable car for myself and have someone ride with me and I’d at least have a car that I could go sit in the drivers seat every day to help keep myself comfortable and my anxiety lower. Not driving has been a cause of frustration everyday for the last few years. Because I’m limited to finding work that I can get to in town, I haven’t been able to find a full time job since I started looking 5 years ago. It is so frustrating to know what you need to do to concur this phobia but then have no way of making it happen.

  • Anna

    I googled “I am too scared to drive” and this was the first result. I am surprised to see I am not the only one around the same age with this problem. My situation might be a bit different. I moved here from Eastern Europe 5 years ago. I never had to drive in my home country because you can always walk, take a cab or the bus. I have had the opportunity to get my license and learn how to drive with an instructor, but I was too nervous to do it. Traffic is crazy in my country, people don’t follow the rules as much and I thought it would be a hassle. Plus I didn’t have a car anyway.

    Moving to Us I knew I couldn’t live here without driving. Yet, here I am, 5 years later, still can’t drive. I made progress. I have tried driving in a parking lot twice. Didn’t go that great. I have had nightmares as a kid that I was driving and lost control of the car. I have no idea where that came from because at that age I wasn’t even thinking I would ever have to drive. Now my husband drives me everywhere. We don’t have kids and I work from home, but this is definitely affecting my life. I even considered moving some place else just because I cant and dont want to drive. I would love to learn, for just in case, but I dont want to have to do it on a regular basis. I feel like I have a hard time learning things that may come easy for most people. I can translate novels from English to my native language, I am great with computers and I have many other skills, but I cant see myself being able to drive. I feel like it requires too much focus and concentration and attention and I can be very very distracted. I am also a very stressed person and I feel that driving would add more stress to my life. I have no idea what to do :(

    • Mau Jo

      Hi, Anna, my story is very similar to yours. I’m 37 and I moved from Latin America to the US to study. Unlike you, I was actually motivated by the prospect of driving and owning a car. In my country, that’s a luxury. However, my academic responsibilities absorbed me and driving was pushed aside. Besides, just like you say, I didn’t have access to a car and I didn’t really need to. I live next to campus and acquaintances or public transportation (although precarious) served me well to get around. That inhibited me from pursuing a driver’s license, unlike my friends who didn’t live next to campus and had to drive in and wondered why I didn’t get a DL and a car?! Also, the speed of the traffic in the highways intimidated me. While in the copilot seat, I felt that if I was the driver I would get distracted. I’m very prone to ‘day-dreaming’ so I grew afraid of having a day-dreaming episode while behind the wheel.

      Suffice to say, not having a DL or a car is pretty much the sole cause of not having a social life and remaining single. However, I had my studying responsibilities to devote to, which kinda kept me busy although not so busy to engage in driving.

      Although I tried several times, only until recently I grew enough courage to obtain a permit but I couldn’t pay an instructor (or was to afraid) to train to pass the road test [which is in 2 days]. I’ll have to have it postponed. The worst part is that I have completed my studies and I have gotten a job in a place where driving is most probably required! I don’t know if I’ll have the time to grow the driving skills to survive there.

      I’m very ashamed of myself for not having earned the skill before and I’m very stressed about the whole situation up to the point of doubting whether my decision to take the job was adequate. Like you, I feel that earning a skill outside my field (which, like yours, is also academia related) causes me a great deal of stress. For example, I don’t know how to dance or swim, which everyone else seems to have absolutely no issue with.

      Thank you for sharing and I hope we can get over our fears some day.

  • Mau Jo

    I’m living a similar situation. I come from a country where driving is a luxury, like having a yacht. I moved to US to pursue graduate studies but I lived right next to campus and didn’t need to drive. Public transportation, although precarious, could be used to go around for groceries and stuff. I’m 37 now and I feel like sh*t because during the 6 years I’ve lived in the US I didn’t learn to drive or get a driver’s license. I’ve graduated recently and got a job in a place where most likely I will need to drive and now I’m freaking out ’cause I don’t know if I’ll have time to learn before I move there. I’m literally loosing sleep over this. I truly feel like a stupid and a coward for not overcoming this silly fear before.

  • SteveBennington

    It sounds like you are doing just fine. It takes many years to experience all driving scenarios. Actually getting your license was the most important step. You got this!

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