Getting My Drivers License... Again

I never learned how to drive in high school. I got my permit when I was 16, but right after that my family moved abroad to where I live now. I was here for a year, then moved back to the US. Once I reached the age of 18, I took my drivers' permit test, learned to drive, and got my license all within one week. The only thing I got wrong on my drivers' test was parallel parking. Then I lived in a place where I had no car, so my license just stayed in my wallet, unused.

I ended up moving back abroad and for my first year there, per international law, drove occasionally, when I had a chance to use a car. (Mostly my mother's.) I practiced for a year, but then after that year, never drove again.

I wanted to transfer my license to a local one, but to do so at the time required at least a few lessons and then taking the local test, which, altogether, cost a decent bit of money, especially since most people fail the test on the first time since the test is very, very difficult.

Someone in my family gave me money to convert my license, but at the time finances were so tight for us that I ended up using that money for groceries. I couldn't prioritize my license when we were that skint.

Years passed. My American license expired at 21, as is standard in many states, and I never renewed it.

At some point, Mike and I discussed licenses. Maybe one of us should get one. However, locally, when getting your first license you need to take at least 28 lessons with a professional instructor before taking the test. As I'd be just converting mine, I wouldn't need to go through that process. But I ended up putting myself on the back burner and saying that the little bit of extra money we could put towards driving licenses should go towards Mike, because that would help him proceed more in the work place. And his business and earning potential mattered more than mine. So Mike took a few lessons and then never continued.

Not so long ago they made a new law absolving immigrants from needing to take the local drivers test to be able to transfer their license and get a local one, but the implementation of the law is kind of interesting, and whether or not they allow this and the exact criteria really depends a lot on whoever is manning the desk in the licensing bureau when you go. However, I knew I definitely couldn't transfer mine, because mine was expired.

Recently, though, when I was in the US, I decided to get my American license again, so that I'd have an up to date license. Because mine expired already, I needed to start the process from scratch, including taking the permit test and then the license test, so I did some research to find out the exact requirements for the driving test. I hadn't driven in years, so I knew I need to practice. And locally, someone without a license is only allowed to practice with a licensed instructor.  Therefore, once I knew I'd be going to the US, I asked around and found a good instructor, and booked enough lessons with him to be able to get me to pass my license test in the US.

When I wrote my post about building mastery, this is exactly what I was referring to, and what inspired the post. Driving was a skill that I had but needed improving. I took lessons, and each time built up my skill level. Each time I got better and better and each time that caused me to feel better about myself and gave me emotional energy to deal with things that otherwise would have knocked me emotionally off kilter. I saw with my own eyes how much building mastery was the best type of self care for me. In my driving lessons, I asked the teacher to help me practice parallel parking, since that was the only thing I failed on my previous test, and I got it correct on the first time. He turns to me and says "Why do you think you need to practice this? You've got it down pat." But for my reassurance I wanted to do it again and again, and practice some maneuverability moves. And I got it on the nose every single time. I literally was on a high the day that I did that, nothing could get me down, even when I had some pretty heavy things lobbed my direction.

When I was in the US, I did exactly as planned. I went to the Board of Motor Vehicles, got my permit (I studied the theory for the permit test on the plane over) and was even going to end up taking my drivers test the same day, but ended up having a bit of a mix up and ended up taking the test the next possible time.

I aced it!

The driving test was divided into two parts. One for maneuverability, you get lots of points off if you touch the cones, automatic fail if you knock them over, one point off if you go forward and start again, and one point off apparently if you stop to take a look how you're doing. One time I saw my mirror was going to hit the pole attached to the cone, so I went forward to get positioned a little better, and got one point off for that. And apparently on my second try, I slowed down a little too much and got a point off for that. But you have 25 points you can lose (I think) and my 2 points off meant I passed just fine.

Then for the actual driving part of my test, I did perfectly, no mistakes. Then the instructor wanted to have me pull over on the yellow markings next to the Board of Motor Vehicles, but it didn't seem like a wide enough place to put a car, so in my attempt to find room, I touched the curb. So got one point off that, literally at the last second.

So now I have an American drivers license. Again. And I'm really proud of myself.

The next step is to bring it to our local licensing bureau, and see what they say. They may have me take the local driving test again, or they may just allow me to transfer it. But either way, I think I'm ready.

Now with a license, do I plan on getting a car? No. But I do plan on being able to rent a car for certain events, like to be able to schedule more foraging classes without using up all my energy traveling back and forth by bus. Or to be able to go on vacation.

But really, the whole thing here that makes me feel great is finally putting myself on the front burner. To not make myself smaller to make room for someone else. To do something that will allow me to grow my career to take care of my family, and not say that someone else deserves to advance more than I do.

How old were you when you got your drivers' license? Anyone not have a drivers' license? Do you enjoy driving?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Awesome! I had a similar situation when moving back to the US after living abroad for 11 years. The DMV were actually real jerks about the test (failed on the most absurdly minor things), even though I'd been driving in the other country for a few years (a MUCH stricter, harder test/process for driving). It's useful for people to know that in some states, you can book your test with a private instructor, which will mitigate any long wait times. It costs a shade more, but then you circumvent any grumpy government employees.

  2. Good for you! You're so inspiring. They have Zip cars in Ohio that you can rent for a few hours for errands or for the entire day. Don't know if there's anything like that where you are but that would be worth looking into. At any rate, keep on truckin' or should I say keep on drivin'? :D

  3. Many congratulations! The independence that driving brings is life-changing. You have seized control of your future and I am sure you will put this to very good use. I am sure that this success will empower you and you should be justifiably proud. Your family will all benefit from your achievement. Wow you really did get the maximum benefit from your trip!

  4. That's awesome!And great that you are putting your needs where they should be. :)

  5. Congrats on getting your license situation taken care of.
    I got my learners permit at 15. Needed it to take Drivers Ed in school. On my 16th birthday I got my license. I use to like to drive, not so much anymore.

    My daughter however is currently 24 and still doesn't have anything but a learners permit. She is terrified of driving anything other than a 4 wheeler off road or a golf cart.
    My best friends from high school were both 21 when they got their license. One will not turn left, ever. The other drives and hits stuff more often than one would expect. My sister had wrecked every car she's ever owned. To date that would be 21 cars. She's been driving 35 years. Some folks just aren't meant to drive.

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