Finding the courage to overcome obstacles in our lives often molds us into the people we become. One of my largest and most recent setbacks has changed my perspective on life, it taught me how to deal with disappointment, and face my problems. Eight months ago I failed my driver’s test after it had been postponed a handful of times. While this might seem like a minor inconvenience to many, obtaining my driver’s license felt like a lifeline to me. Throughout high school, I have dealt with a fair amount of anxiety and depression. I always envied my older friends who had licenses because I saw that small card as a ticket to freedom. A license was more than the ability to go wherever I wanted whenever I wanted. It represented an escape from the cage I was locked inside at home. I felt alone. I fought constantly with my family. I felt ignored like no one ever listened to me. I was biding my time until I finally got my license, then I would no longer feel trapped. I spent many nights crying alone in my room while my family gathered in the family room below me to watch a movie. I thought when I got my license I would be able to drive as far away as I could get, and without that license I felt stuck, suffocating in my own home. So when I failed my driver’s test I was devastated. I had been so intent on getting my license and the sense of freedom that came with it, that when I failed I instantly broke down; the two weeks until my retake seemed impossible to survive.
Once I had regained my composure, I returned to school, but I spent the entire day on the verge of tears, replaying every little detail that contributed to my failure. I was furious with myself. Later that day I got a text from my aunt. She told me that she knew I would be okay and that I would pass the next time. She said that when she was trying to get her cosmetology license she failed her first state board test. She was devastated but determined. She took it again, passed, and today she owns a successful salon. Her story inspired me, and her advice that day was a turning point for me.
A few weeks later when I retook my test and passed, the feeling of accomplishment and relief had me crying tears of joy. After practicing every day for weeks, my determination and hard work paid off. I finally had obtained the freedom I craved for so long. It seems like perseverance and working through the problems you face in life is something you’ve been taught from early childhood, and maybe truly learning that lesson at 17 years old is behind the curve, but this was one of the first times I had ever really wanted something and worked tirelessly to get it. I quickly came to the realization that literally driving away from my depression wouldn’t actually solve anything, and that my problems would still be there when my gas tank ran out. I tried escaping my family, thinking that the more distance I put between me and my house would lessen the pain I felt, but I knew that I couldn’t leave forever and that when I returned nothing would be different. Even though my driver’s license didn’t come with the magic cure I thought it would, I still gained the ability to handle disappointing setbacks. I was able to recover from my failures and work harder to succeed the next time, although I was tempted to give up. I’m so thankful that this experience has taught me that I’m capable of getting through difficult times even if at first it doesn’t seem possible.