This past week I decided to embark on my second Hadley course. This class is called “Going places.” The class helps students realize their potential as a non-driver. As a person, who can not drive myself, I hope that my audience will benefit from having me share my experiences. In the first part of the course, we are asked to explore the emotions that we feel because we can not drive. These feelings can be both positive and negative. Some positive feelings that were disgust were being able to do something special other than drive, being able to enjoy hobbies here at home and being able to get more exercise by walking or biking. Some negative feelings that were included were anger, depression, Isolation, dependence and lack of spontaneity.
For me, I honestly can say the strongest emotions that I have felt as a non-driver are anger and depression. I feel angry that the fact that I cannot drive impacts my life so much. Not being able to drive impacts my career, being able to meet with friends, or just to go shopping.
In my town, there is a lack of public transportation, and this makes me feel like I am dependent on my family and friends. My anger comes more from a lack of knowledge and empathy from possible employers because I do not hold a driver’s license.
Exploring my emotions even deeper I started feeling a lot of these negative feelings when I was a teenager. I felt many of them when most of my friends were getting their learning permits and their driver’s licenses. I was very angry when I was sixteen when I was told I would not be able to drive. I often asked myself, “What will be come of my future if I can not drive?”
I have had reactions of depression because I have had feelings of isolation from time to time. Many of my friends work, have families to take care of, or they simply do not have time to meet with me.
Another emotion I feel is a lack of spontaneity and growth. I see a lot of my friends and family through social media going on trips, even small ones to the store, and having families of their own. I sit back with my cup of coffee and go, “Well, I sure wish I could have children of my own or go to Europe.”
I never talked about being a non-driver much except for a short lesson with my qualified teachers of the visually impaired. My mother did not get out much. I had a lack of positive ways to see non-driving. I did not have orientation and mobility until I was an adult.
However, if I look at these feelings, I can see some of the positive reactions that the course has to offer. I am able to use the internet to build my own online business to help educate others, such as parents, children with sight loss and Nystagmus, and the general public, that we can achieve our dreams and live active lives. I am able to enjoy going for a walk, I am able to enjoy many hobbies at home such as sewing, cooking, and reading.
I can call a friend on the phone or use Facebook messenger or What’sApp to have a quick chat. With a little bit of planning I am able to go and meet friends in town. If I plan and work hard, I know one day I will be able to go on more trips. For now, going to Walmart is just fine.
I find that keeping busy helps with depression. I usually keep a to-do list of things that I need to do during the day such as writing my blogs, doing laundry, and getting some exercise. I have found joy in staying at home and going out when I can.
My advice to parents is to explore your own feelings and concerns for your children. If they are old enough have a conversation about being a non-driver and the feelings, both positive and negative, that they may feel. Start building a positive relationship with using low vision aids such as a cane and telescope. Push for orientation and mobility if you feel like your child is going to need it.
Have you, as a parent, or your child ever experienced any of these feelings? If so, when did they start? What are some ways that you can deal with them? In my next blog post I will discuss the impact of being a non-driver and how it can impact your family and friends.