“You can’t drive, you’re too sick in there to be able to drive.”
Those words, uttered by my mother, hit me hard, and I held onto them for a long time.
I was 18 and had just received my learners permit. Although I could have gotten my permit at 15, I had naively believed my parents when they insisted I wasn’t ready. When I finally had the card in my possession, I was eager to play catch up to my friends and classmates.
One Saturday morning, my dad and I had planned to go out and practice the basics. I stepped into the minivan’s driver seat as my dad buckled into the passenger’s side seat and started quizzing me on basic car knowledge.
Where are your turn signals, where are you lights, how do you turn on your wipers?
After answering each question on his mental checklist, it was time to drive. Sticking the keys into the ignition, I felt excited and nervous, and I could feel a glimpse of the new level of independence that was in my near future.
My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by my dad’s voice sternly yelling, “Stop! You’re going to hit the mailbox, turn the steering wheel!”
But, instead of stopping, I hit the gas, not the brake. Sure enough, the side mirror slammed into the mailbox and immediately fell off it’s hinges. I hit the brakes and felt the rush of panic and remorse come over me. I was upset I had messed up, and as I stepped out of the vehicle, I ran inside and upstairs to my room and began to cry.
Now, if I had taken a step back and had been honest with myself, I would have realized that these mistakes happen to many of us. I had never operated a vehicle before in my life, and surely, I was not the only person who had hit a mailbox before.
However, I didn’t take a step back. I panicked. I felt like a failure, a mess up, and like someone who would never be capable of driving a car.
And that’s when it happened. My mom walked into my room, wrapped her hands around my head, and shook it, “See? You’re too sick in here,” she said, with only a tone I could describe as trying to hide cruel excitement.
I was crushed. Maybe she was right. After all, I had damaged the family vehicle the moment I had sat behind the wheel. I held onto that lie for over two years. Two years before I finally was able to muster up enough courage to go and get my license. I failed the first time (parallel parking is actually the worst), but I tried again and passed.
At first I chose to let my mistake define me and keep me from getting something I very much desired. But then, I was able to see through the lie, and hold onto the truth. Mistakes happen. It’s normal human behavior. Are we incapable of doing something because of an innocent and sometimes, common, mistake? No. If we live with that mentality, we will constantly be held back with regret. So, embrace your mistakes, they make us stronger, they make us smarter, and most of all, they make us human.