testMy First Driving Test

My first real driving test came when we left Bozeman and headed towards Canada. We decided that I would drive so that Pedro could work while we still had Internet. He hooked up the trailer, and I nervously hopped in the driver’s seat and adjusted it for me.

I like driving his truck, don’t get me wrong. But I feel like I’m driving an army tank down the road—and now I would have an army tank AND a 22-foot trailer. When Pedro acts as my copilot, I always feel a little nervous, too.

So, basically, nervous plus nervous normally equals a pretty grumpy me. But I decided to stop driving defensively (my term for letting each of his suggestions on driving technique irritate me). After all, if I planned on driving back from Alaska by myself, I needed to learn how do so in the most efficient manner.

The first test occurred five seconds after we pulled out of the campsite. “Can I really make it around that circle?” I asked Pedro.

“Yes, you have plenty of room,” he assured me.

Normally, I would argue with him. What I thought I saw and my perceptions of the size of the trailer and the angle of the turn had me positive that we couldn’t make it. But this was a test of my trust in his greater experience. He can back a semi uphill in the dark blindfolded (ok, maybe not blindfolded). Not to mention that he had known when the trailer was balanced.

My need to always know the answer warred with my knowledge of his superior driving skills. I peered over the hood and carefully negotiated the sharp turnaround without any problems. I had passed my first test.

Changing My Mindset

For the next three hours, I interrupted his work whenever I felt unsure about the proper technique for driving. I learned how to shift down to assist the brakes. I learned what gears work best for going up hills and down hills.

Amazingly, I discovered that when I asked questions, it didn’t feel as much like a test. It felt like teamwork. I needed to learn that lesson. All too often I feel confrontational when I feel nervous. I like myself a lot better when I act like a learner rather than a know-it-all who feels threatened by constructive criticism.

Beauty Tip #7: Make an effort to be a learner when you lack confidence.

Q4U: What makes you feel nervous and defensive?