A couple weeks ago, I got my driving permit. Yes, I do realize that it may seem strange that I'm writing about this after only getting my permit, but this was a giant hurdle to get across, so you're going to have to bear with me. After two years of taking driver's ed, studying for the test, and failing it twice, I finally passed. I read the handbook four times, took dozens of practice tests until I practically had them memorized, and even tried meditating. I went to a different DMV and tried to breathe as deeply and slowly as possible. I sat down at the computer to take the test, and tried to go as slowly as possible. As I went through the test, I realized that I knew the answer to al the questions. There were a couple questions I skipped because I wasn't 100% sure, and there were only two questions that I got wrong. I ran out of the DMV after being handed my permit, and I gave my mom a gigantic hug. I passed. I finally passed.
I realized recently that in the last two years, I've decided to do things relating to getting my drivers license when there was a lot of other stuff going on. I started taking my drivers ed. course the summer before I started at a new school, and so much of my brain space was filled by thinking about that. When I took the permit test the first time, me, my mom, and my brother were living with my grandparents again because our AC was broken, and I was kind of focused on that. When I went to take it the second time back in November, it seemed like all my friend's lives were falling apart, and they were my priority. Basically, all my brain space had been filled with too much stuff.
That's what this all comes down to- brain space. From February-July, I went to therapy once a week, with the exception of a Thursday here and there. Because of that, I was able to start peeling the layers of the onion away and dealing with a lot of stuff I'd been holding in for years and years. When you've been carrying a lot of emotional weight, your brain starts to store it and pay attention to it even when you don't think you are. When you start to process everything and start taking care of your mental health, your brain is able to open up space for more things. Since I was in therapy and dealing with some of my emotional weight, my brain was able to open space for me to focus on getting my permit. It may seem strange and a little too simple, but trust me on this, brain space is a huge thing.
I had also begun to take care of my anxiety. I have always been a very anxious person, but the last year has been especially hard. After a rough month of May and a fairly stressful graduation season, I knew something had to change. I'm not saying I magically cured my anxiety, because I don't think that's possible, but I was able to reduce it greatly by doing a few things. I started exercising more, which released endorphins that made me happier. I stopped eating gluten as much as I was because, seriously, your gut is connected to your brain.
But the biggest thing I started doing was distracting myself in the middle of a negative thinking spiral. This was the hardest, but I think it's also what made the biggest difference. When I felt myself starting to spiral into a void of negativity, I did whatever I could to change my environment. Whether it was as simple as changing the genre of music I was listening to or the show I was watching, or something bigger like physically leaving the room I was in and going outside, I distracted myself. Sometimes it doesn't work, and sometimes it's much harder to get myself out of the spiral, but I haven't stopped trying. It was (and still is!) hard, but now I can feel myself starting to think far more positively.
I have friends who got their driver's license right after turning sixteen, and I know people who didn't start the process until half way through college. I have friends who are dealing with anxiety and depression who had no problem passing the permit test the first time, and I have friends who, like me, had to take it a few times before they passed. There are people who had to process a lot more before they could succeed at something, and there are people who haven't even started to process stuff and they may not realize how heavy a load they are carrying.
What I'm trying to say is that everyone's process is different, and this definietly doesn't just apply to driving tests. If someone is getting somewhere at a slower pace than you did, don't call attention to it. It only makes the anxiety worse, so be kind to people, and believe them when they say they are trying as hard as they can. And if someone is finishing something faster than you are, don't worry about it. If you need extra help, let people help you. You don't have to do everything by yourself. You'll get to where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. Make some room in your brain, and trust in your process.