In the past three years, I’ve spent a total of $1,988.70 on the Lyft app. Three years of riding in unfamiliar cars with strangers and exchanging polite platitudes while awkwardly awaiting our destination. Three years of snowstorms plaguing the roads and being caught in the middle of a never-ending cycle of cancelled rides. Three years since I first started using the app, not including the countless times I relied on public transportation or begged my parents to help me out.
It’s safe to say that obtaining my driver’s license in the summer of 2021 was a significant event in my life. It greatly altered the trajectory of my life, and driving has become my absolute favourite pastime that can therapize me in a way nothing else can.
In ethnic communities, many women experience extensive scrutiny and an unfair lack of freedom. If you, too, grew up in an immigrant household, you already know this feeling quite well. Forget spontaneous plans and last-minute outings. We need to convince our parents and arrange transportation at least a week in advance. It turns into a whole ordeal that is rather time-consuming and yields far too little fruit.
Getting my driver’s license completely changed my world. It meant that visiting my friends or going on shopping trips was no longer a hassle. I began to appreciate the simple pleasures of life and enjoy mundane privileges such as going on a McDonald’s run to unwind after a long day of work.
In addition to gaining an unprecedented amount of freedom, my license allowed me to bridge the gap between adolescence and adulthood. I no longer had to depend on my parents or hardworking strangers to find my way around. There was no game plan or extensive planning necessary to go out anymore. It could just be on a whim. A spur of the moment decision. I finally had complete control.
Whether I’m driving with friends and chatting about life or spending time by myself bopping to some music, nothing makes me happier. I’ve learned to enjoy my own company and have fun by myself. I’ve been able to explore all kinds of opportunities and dabble in different activities. I’ve become a happier person.
But it’s important to remember the privilege and responsibility that comes with driving. While it’s certainly a convenient mode of transportation, it’s still important to prioritize safety and gratitude. There are many benefits to this role as long as you’re willing to take on the responsibility. Stay off your phone, keep your eyes on the road and be a courteous driver.
Driving for me is cathartic. There is so much power and tranquillity in being able to hop in your car as the sole dictator of your destination. It’s when I get to destress and reflect on myself. It’s when I get to jam out and move like no one’s watching. It’s when I get the chance to feel like a somewhat-accomplished adult in the midst of my chaotic life. Behind the wheel is where I feel free.