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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kent State chapter.

Have you ever started something and immediately realized you were bad at it? That was my experience when my mom taught me how to drive manual.

My dad had just got a new car, and his 2014 Subaru Outback stick shift became mine. I was excited and joked to my sister that I was getting a “free new car,” after all, it was an upgrade from my 2009 silver Honda Civic.

The Subaru had all-wheel drive and heated seats, so I was thrilled to take on the chilly Ohio winters. Of course, I was given the car in the Spring, so the appeal wore off quick. Especially when I gave it a go at the wheel.

At first, it really didn’t seem too bad. As my mom drove us to the cemetery where I would drive my new car for the first time, she explained everything as she did it.

“As I come to a stop, clutch all the way in and start breaking. Switch into neutral and clutch out. Clutch in, switch to first. Ease on the gas and slowly let off the clutch,” she demonstrated.

“Alright,” I thought. “I’ve got this.”

We pulled into the cemetery and I hopped into the front seat.

Break on, clutch in. (Wow you have to push the clutch much further than I expected). Start the car. (Okay, I can handle this). First gear. Deep breath. Ease on the gas and slowly let off the clu–

The car lurched forward and rumbled to a stop. I stalled it.


I guess it was never going to be quite that easy.

Let’s try this again. Key out, both feet on the pedals, restart the car.

I kept practicing, occasionally succeeding at starting from a stop. That is legitimately the hardest part about stick.

The rest is easier, but still a lot to think about. As you increase speed, you have to put in the clutch and switch gears one at a time. Each time being careful not to let the clutch out too quickly. When you slow down, you need to shift to lower gears using the same process.

But worst of all is starting on a hill.

As soon as you take your foot off the break to switch to the gas, the car starts rolling backward. This means you have to go through the difficulty of starting from a stop while also having to hurry. The stress I felt when I had to start up a hill with a car right behind me was immeasurable.

All that to say, learning to drive my new car took a long time and caused me way more stress than I care to admit.

When I became really worked up about my abilities, my mom came to my rescue. She showed me a video “How to drive a manual transmission” from the cars.com youtube channel. The guy in the second minute of the video straight up says: “You are going to suck at it! It’s going to be hilarious, to me, you’re going to hate it but I’m laughing just thinking about it. But here, you probably ought to laugh at it too.”

Hearing that was really what I needed to stop taking myself so seriously. It also assured me that I wasn’t alone in struggling to learn to drive this car.

It took longer than expected, but over time I got comfortable enough with the car to bring it to campus and drive it all by myself.

Shortly later I taught my boyfriend to drive it because he was eager to learn. Somehow, he picked it up like nothing. I couldn’t hide my bitterness.

Grace Springer

Kent State '24

Grace is a Journalism Major and Media Advocacy Minor at Kent State University. She is interested in music and plays flute for the KSU Marching Band. Other clubs she is involved in are Sunrise Kent State and Tau Beta Sigma.