When I was little, and had a headful of blonde curls, my parents always recited this rhyme to me: "There was a little girl, with a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. And when she was good, she was very, very good, and when she was bad, she was horrid."
I don't know if it was meant to be prophetic or descriptive, but I don't really have a medium setting. I have mellowed, to some extent, with age, but I'm still a love it or hate it kind of girl.
Lately, this tendency has reared its ugly head to my detriment as I prepare to pass my driving test. The Irish law is changing on 1 July so that Second Provisional License drivers will be required to have qualified drivers in the car with them at all times. Not only is the law changing, it's clear that enforcement of said licensing laws is also going to change. So I really need to pass my test before then.
To that end, I've been taking regular driving lessons in which we do a mock exam. I've failed them all so far and it's gotten really frustrating. I seem to be over-correcting from one test to the next. One week, I'll fail for going too slowly and being too hesitant. The next week, I failed for driving too quickly in an area full of pedestrians and a zebra crossing. This past week, it was back to failing for driving too slowly and hesitantly.
In my defense, it has been pissing rain for the last few weeks. The roads are slick and full of pot holes the size of Kansas (or even worse, rocks that have been washed down the sides of the hills). I've felt like I was driving appropriately for the conditions, but my instructor felt that a test examiner would feel otherwise.
Test examiners subscribe to the Goldilocks theory of driving - everything must be just right. The tolerances for just right seem to be extraordinarily narrow and they enforce these parameters with a robotic adherence.
When I complained about this arbitrary and rigorous approach to grading, my instructor asked me did I remember that horrible accident up in Monaghan where the five young fellas died in a fiery crash caused by speeding. I did since it was in the news a lot at the time. They were all from the same small town, which was devastated by it, and there's nothing the Irish media serves up quicker than a Carnage on the Roads story. "The next Monday," said my instructor, "the examiners here failed five young men for driving too slowly. It doesn't make any sense."
I'm trying to control what I can control - namely my approach to the test. I've been working on my nervousness and have even started taking Rescue Remedy despite being an alternative remedies agnostic. I've been trying to de-emphasise the importance of the test in my mind. Yes, I have to pass eventually, but if I don't pass the second time, it's not the end of the world. I figure I can probably pick up a re-test every six weeks or so, which should give me at least four or five tries.
But if I am ever going to find a happy medium, now would be a great time.