I failed my practical driving exam. Again. For the third time.
That’s on top of the seven times I failed my theory exam. This driving “ellende” (misery) has been running for three years, squeezing my bank account dry by the month.
I was very nervous but I had more self confidence that the last two. I’ve been doing really well in my driving lessons. But there were two mistakes that the examinator just couldn’t let pass. When it involves a biker and right of way, you can’t take the wrong decision. That cost me my third failure. Yet again, I went home with swollen eyes.
I took two days off to ease the pressure and concentrate on the exam and not have to deal with office stress. I ran the morning before to increase my endorphin level (to calm me down), even managed to laugh despite the nervousness, had a proper breakfast too. But the moment I got into the car for a short driving lesson before the exam proper, I started shaking. I was focusing too much on one instruction and forgetting everything that I was ever told. I was overthinking. The big rotundas were looming on me, like I would never get off the right exit. There were moments that I was blocking out. I was crying behind the wheels the day before my exam. It was the same scenario 30 minutes before.
I think they call it “falangst” in Dutch or fear of failing. But can you blame me?
I was afraid and ashamed. I’ve usually come out unscathed from difficult situations like these – from break ups, to moving abroad and being jobless. But this, this has been the only challenge that I have not been able to overcome until now. The people closest to me have seen the bucket of tears I’ve poured on this, how it has broken my spirits time and time again and how it made me soooo angry. So angry at myself for not getting it right.
Unless you’ve failed your driving exams more than twice, you’ll never know what I am talking about. You won’t understand the pain and embarrassment of having to tell people that you’ve failed again, even to the ones that you love. Or having to explain why. Or judging yourself based from what you think they think of you because, well you failed that same exam again.
“Have you not learned enough? Have you not spent too much money already? Can you be so stupid? Why don’t you just quit and save your money?”
I fell that those who haven’t gone through what I’m going through have no business telling me what I should do. Ironically, those who have been there would only advise me not to give up.
I am avoiding well wishers as well.
“Good luck. You can do it. I’d cross my fingers for you. This time you’ll get it.”
These words are empty to me. If at all, they only increased the pressures on my shoulder. I am already struggling in my own head and I didn’t want to muddle it even more with such wishes.
Whenever I fail, I’d ask people not to give me sympathy. That doesn’t help me either. When I failed for the second time, I told my colleague not to bother me with her sympathy and just move on and pretend nothing happened when I came to the office the next day. She was rightfully offended. She wanted to offer me consolations and tell me some wisdom for the next exam. Things that were absolutely not welcome. I don’t think others could give me better advice than my instructor and my examinators.
There is also this friend who kept on telling me that she passed hers in one try and shame on me because her daughter already passed hers (I started my driving lessons before her) and maybe her son would get his driver’s license before I get mine. It is horrifying how people could still kick you when you’re already on the ground.
I know that it is human reaction, to offer consolation whenever you see that a person is down. Like how Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) is “obligated” to offer warm drinks whenever he sees that someone is unhappy. And Leonard has to tell him he doesn’t want the warm drinks and would just rather be alone and curl into fetal position.
I don’t want that warm tea and have deprived some people the reaction that they were expecting. I have offended quite a few this way, when I don’t run to their arms with great appreciation and gratefulness for their sympathy. A pat in the back and a simple “it’s ok” were actually all that I needed. Or what my mother would say everytime, “Ok lang yan anak, next time uli.” (It’s ok child, try again next time.) I think I am perfectly capable of bouncing back because that’s really the only option I’ve got.
I know some people who failed their driving exams, six times, one, even eight times. I read on the internet that there were some who failed 11 times. I know that I am not the only one struggling with it. I might be good in a lot of things but apparently, I am not in this one. It’s a bitter fact to swallow. But one day I would be sitting behind the wheels all on my own. But now, if the examinator thinks that I am not yet ready to do that, then probably I am not ready yet.
To get a Dutch driver’s license is way more difficult that to get a Dutch passport. Here we have one thing that not a lot of countries have – bikers, lots of them. Some of them are too arrogant and too stupid to follow the rules but when you are driving a car, the responsibility rests on your shoulders because you can kill somebody. The Dutch driving exams are designed to take all that in consideration – being able to drive 130 km/hr if the speed limit is 130km/hr, anticipating the movements of the weaker traffic participants (BIKERS, pedestrians, KIDS, STUPID PEOPLE), and knowing the rules of traffic, ALL of them. Those are the reasons why the Netherlands is among the countries with the lowest fatal traffic accidents.
I am not giving up. It’s not in my nature to give up. I will cry, I will get mad and I might have to empty my savings account. But I am not going to give up on this one. Not this time. Never. And when I finally get it, I’d treat myself to that bottle of 22 year old Macallan Private Cellar Cask.
Dutch driving exam, you can’t put me down!
I felt a bit guilty that I was so worked up about my failure. A young boy I knew from childhood went missing and was found dead yesterday. He was run over by a motorcycle and was even robbed. My misery is nothing compared to his family. And my ability to drive properly and carefully in the future will spare families like my friend’s from the ordeal of losing someone they love.
I was walking aimlessly around Palace Square, admiring the huge sculptures on top of the General Staff and passing the equally impressive arc towards Nevsky Prospect. I noticed a couple, the man trying to take a photo of his wife. I did not pay so much attention to them, continuing my wanderings, looking at the ceilings, the sculptures, the columns of the arc and the old clock. It was about 2:50 and I was thinking that I must hurry because the museum is closing in about 2.5 hours.
When suddenly this Russian man shouted, “деBушка идет!” and waved his hand.
It’s probably the first Russian sentences that I completely understood, without my mind having to decipher it for half an hour. It means, Girl, go away!
But when you are confused and mixing up languages, it sounds like, “Girl, you are stupid.”
идтй – to go/ to walk / gaan
This has got to be my favorite Russian verb.
The pronunciation and transformation of this word, depending on the pronoun used, sounds approximately like two English words, “idiot” and “idiom”. If you are like me who learns new words by associating them with certain sounds or things, then this Russian verb is very easy to learn.
Only that sometimes, I am hesitating to say it because I might sound like I am calling somebody an idiot.
Almost everyday I bike to the office. That is a total of 1 hour cycling from the house to the office and 10 more minutes during Mondays and Tuesday when I got to school. Biking in the Netherlands is a breeze, can be a relaxing exercise except for three things 1) when it is raining 2) when the wind is blowing so hard *and in Rotterdam and Schiedam, they can blow me a way literally and 3) when you have to go over a bridge.
The first two situations comes often these days, because autumn in the Netherlands is marked by rain and wind. But crossing a high bridge, I encounter it everyday and it is no easy feat for a girl weighing 44 kilos riding a bike of 20kilos, especially when she has not discovered that bikes have gears.
I struggle every time I cross that bridge and there so many instances when I wanted to abandon the bike while going uphill. It is only today that I did that because the side wind was just too hard. There is one thing though that makes the difficult uphill climb worth it, especially now that the sun rises late and sets early. It is the view from the bridge.
I haven’t taken a picture of the sunset because I am usually in a hurry to get to school in the afternoon. But I tell, from up that bridge, it is divine!
Funny how I related my every day to the bridge and the sunrise and the sunrise. My life in the Netherlands has been an uphill climb and unfortunately, I am not even halfway yet. It is a difficult ride but everyday I am struggling to be better. It is not that easy. The sunset and the sunrise are the beginning and end of everyday journey and even with the rain and the wind, I am determined to make it home. At the end of it all, there is this:
|The view I got, on a rainy morning after applying for a UK visa.|
Now I resort to blogging as a way to sustain that flickering desire to write. Much as I would like to spend a week writing beside the heater while watching the autumn leaves fall, I have to earn the cost of the insulation and other immediate needs. To make matters worse, due to my Dutch lessons which scrambled the order of words into something that cannot be translated in English, my spoken English has been severely affected while my writing skill is slowly being gnawed away by the complexities of the Dutch language.
It is one in the morning, one of the rare times that I can write without disturbances. Had my eyes not bothered for two days, so much that I have to make an appointment with the doctor tomorrow, I would not have one hour more to stay in bed tomorrow morning. Still, I am not staying up late to write. I’m actually doing a television report, one of the things I do on the side to at least feel that I can write and tell stories.
I actually have a thousand stories to tell, the puppets of Prague, the thermal baths in Budapest and Slovakia, the beautiful Black Forest and their quirky hats, the alcohol of every country I visited, the difficulty of an expat life and learning a new language, the lack of restaurants open for lunch in the Netherlands, the heartbreaks of failing the theory exam and the challenges of controlling a car, the realizations of being a Filipino in another country and appreciating my values more and others stories that can only sit in my mind at this time.
I miss writing. If only it is that easy.