Driving Freedom: What I Learned Only After I Got My License

[Guest blogger  Ashley Orelup  joins us to talk about driving freedom and explain how and why having a license is full of tiny freedoms you won't learn about in driver's ed.  Thanks, Ashley!]

In the coming months, you’re gonna learn a lot about why you should get your license when you take driver’s ed, about responsibility and safety and convenience–and it’s all true. But I’ve got a different set of reasons to share with you.

Illustration of driving freedom, with a young woman relaxing behind the wheel.

Driving freedom illustrated! (NOTE: this car was not in motion at the time of the photo.)

My name is Ashley, and I’ve had my license for four months.

I could write a whole novel about one moment, describing how wonderful it feels to drive alone at night, with music blasting and windows rolled down, not knowing where you’re heading, and not caring either. You could read that novel over and over, and still never know what it really feels like to live that moment out and experience it yourself. You could read a whole driver’s manual and figure out how to start the car, change lanes, all the basics and technical situations; but you won’t know what it’s like to genuinely be a driver until you get behind the wheel.

The books and classes will never teach you how it feels to pull over on the side of the road and just sit there on the roof of your car watching the world pass by, embracing the feeling of being so small and yet so free at the same time. That is a privilege you only get when you yourself are a driver.

There are countless circumstances and sensations that are known to drivers alone. You have to live and learn.

After finally finishing the driver’s handbook, and the online course , and passing my permit test, I felt confident to get behind the car wheel and start driving. I thought I knew everything I needed to know to drive–and I was right. However, knowing how to drive is different than knowing what it feels like to be a driver. It’s like making macaroni; you can read the instructions and understand the steps, but you have to put action behind it and taste that you did it right before you can you can truly state that you know how to make macaroni.

Sure, you cannot taste what it’s like to be a driver, but you can experience it by feeling the freedom of an open road, or the amusement of spying on everyone else in their cars as you’re stuck in traffic. It’s like skimming from window to window as if you were skipping through reality shows on tv (most of them are people rubbing their heads or picking their noses, but there is the occasional excitement from someone rocking out to their music, or expressively gossiping). In that moment you are instantly connected with countless strangers because you are all stuck in traffic together. When one moves, you all move–even if it’s just an inch–as if you were all an unspoken unit. Suddenly, that inch becomes an accomplishment that you well deserve for sitting there patiently. You don’t need to know how to throw a congratulations party for yourself for rolling an inch in traffic to know how to drive, but you will know it when you are a driver.

When you’re an experienced driver, you will wear flat shoes when you drive, and keep your heels in your bag because even though that is nowhere in the driver’s handbook, you’ll know better than to drive in heels. When you’re an experienced driver, you won’t leave just one window slightly rolled down, because you’ll know how annoying that sound is. Most likely, you’ll roll down your windows all the way, because by then you’ll know the amazing feeling of fresh air whizzing by your face and through your hair as you drive. And when you’re an experienced driver, you’ll understand how a whole new world opens up when you have the ability to buy your own food through a drive-thru.

Right now you are not a driver. You’ve still got a lot to learn. However, every experienced driver has started off as someone who didn’t know the first thing about driving. Luckily, it’s easy: you could begin to learn how to drive through DriversEd.com . Once you know how to drive, you can sit behind the wheel with confidence. And driving with confidence is knowing what it truly means to be a driver–to have the world instantly become more vast in your eyes, and have it beg you to explore it. Don’t just dream about it, or read about it. Actively pursue driving, and enjoy the ride.

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