• Ibiyemi Balogun

Driving miss Ibiyemi......get it?! like the movie ;)



I’m not sure why I’m choosing to tell this story now other than the fact that I think the holy spirit(God) just told me to do so…..only 2 other people know this story, my roommate Kari and my therapist, so consider yourself lucky and invited to hear my driving story!


It all started when I was 17 years old, new to Canada, and in boarding school. Our boarding school here in forest hill had organized driving lessons with a program called Young drivers for any boarding student that wanted it for $1500 (which back in 2009, was a sh*t ton of money for some lessons). I remember thinking to myself, who cares about driving, or something along the lines of “oh I don’t even have a car so whatever……chuck it up to naivety.


Then I went on to university at the University of Toronto in Scarborough……for anyone who lives or knows Scarborough you would know that you need a car to get around BUT then again, I lived on campus, so you know “was it really necessary?”. I remember my dad saying he would buy me a car if I got my license, and I remember distinctively saying “don’t worry about it, save your money”. My roommate at the time had a truck (shout out to Sopha Sopherson) so again, I didn’t need to drive. So for my 4 years at Uni 2010-2014, I didn’t drive. When I was graduating in 2014, I finally thought to myself, maybe I should learn how to do this driving thing that people talk about…..PLUS I remember a story my mom once told me about this 40-year-old woman that didn’t drive (she had a driver) and one day her kid needed to go to the hospital and the driver was off that day which created a bad situation for them…….Anyways, I started taking lessons and I was actually quite good at it. I got my tight turns, my complete stops (not rolling ones, like y’all do), I checked my blind spots and controlled my speed, I was good! I wrote my written exam and passed it with FLYING colors and did my driving test and passed it as well on the first try in one of the hardest locations. (Shout out to metro Toronto east driving center, with the ridiculous turn where you CAN’T see any cars, coming around the bend). Nevertheless, I felt accomplished, I took my celebratory driving pic and posted it on Facebook (I think)! I was finally an ADULT and got my license at 22.


As life would have it, I had just graduated, moved downtown, and literarily didn’t need a car anymore so I effectively stopped driving; I threw myself into my post-grad, job hunting, and settling into this new life of being an adult. I knew in the back of my mind that I hadn’t finished the dreaded 3 step licensing process that is required for those of us in Ontario BUT I had bigger fish to fry! (Quick aside: if you don’t live in Ontario, Canada we have a 3-step licensing process; step 1 (G1) - written test, step 2 (G2) – driving test, step 3 (G or G2 exit) - highway test and you have 5 years to complete all the steps).


Soooo here’s how the years went by……


Year 1 (2015):

I was in a new city, in a new job, in a new post-grad, and effectively underwater; I remember working full-time hours at my internship (9-5 pm) and in school full time (6-9 pm) 3 nights a week and then in the library on Saturdays and Sundays. Although I was able to finish a full-time post-grad (10 courses) in 1 year, driving was not on my radar, but that was ok because I had 5 years.


Year 2 (2016):

I was ready to take my G2 exit test in the summertime (because ain't nobody trying to drive in snow) when I realized I was a little rusty. I decided to opt for 1 or 2 refresher classes with a local driving school and then take the test. Little did I know that my driving instructor would take me for RIIIDE literarily…..He told me I need 15 lessons at $80 per session and I was too much of a people pleaser back then to argue that I didn’t need that many lessons. He was an older white gentleman so I didn’t have the words to say anything….So every Saturday for weeks, I would wake up early and drive around North York and sometimes the downtown area. To be fair I did learn a lot in that summer especially that there is a BIG difference between suburb driving in Scarborough and city driving in Toronto….between the pedestrians, streetcars, cyclists, and other cars, it’s a miracle that there aren’t collisions EVERYDAY in the city. Nevertheless, when it was time to take the test, the instructor told me it would cost $260 just for test day and it had to be a specific test center. I paid the money, drove out there, did the route 2 times before the test, and to my surprise, I failed it! I remember feeling devastated and very sad. I had spent all that money that I didn’t have ONLY to get shut down. I really did feel taken advantage by the system and burnt out by the process, so I didn’t book another test.


Year 3 & 4 (2017 & 2018) came and went! And still, I was burned out, PLUS applying for grad school and looking for a new job which took 1 year, but that’s ANOTHER story for ANOTHER blog post 


Year 5 (2019) – At this point, I had completely forgotten about the 5-year rule up until about 2 months to my license expiring and I started panicking. I hadn’t driven in a long time other than quick trips here and there on vacation back home in Lagos which really doesn’t count for ANYTHING. In my panic, I didn’t have time to research good driving schools so I called that BABA from earlier but this time I told myself that things would be different. I had more disposable income, I had picked up some skills, I wasn’t going to allow him to take me for a ride, and for the most part, he didn’t. 3 weeks to my license expiring, I managed to book a test slot (booking driving test appointments in Toronto is like the HUNGER GAMES); I took time off work to do it and to my surprise, the test lady FAILED me for going 42km in a 40km zone. I managed to apply for another week just in the Knick of time and that same lady FAILED me again, this time for not signaling at the last turn before the test was over. Before I had the time to rebook, my license had expired and I had to start ALLLLL over again from the written test. I did the written test and before I had the chance to rebook, COVID hit…..so here I am, a 29-year-old GROWN ass woman with no license. I know it shouldn’t matter because I don’t have a car and I live in a city with good transportation and a world where uber exists, but I feel some type of way.


You see, somewhere along the way I started to feel insecure about the fact that I didn’t have my license, and because I had failed the test, I started to feel like maybe I couldn’t drive. I remember my friends joking around about my license wahala(troubles*) and my co-workers making fun of me for not passing the test and I knew it was in light BUT I took it to heart. I also internalized the fact that I would be a “bad mother” if I didn’t learn how to drive because what if my kid got sick? ……somewhere along the way, because of all these messages, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy; I became VERY anxious at the thought of driving and every time I did, I would make mistakes because I was unsure. Somewhere along the way, I tied the idea of not having my license and not driving into being a FAILURE or feeling like my life was incomplete in some way. Every time something is less than perfect in my life, I come back to the fact that I don’t have my license and that it’s my fault and ultimately I deserve to feel that shame…..right about now, you’re probably thinking it’s not that deep, no one can go anywhere anyways it’s a pandemic BUT for me, it is that deep, because it is a representation of my somewhat never-ending shortcomings…..


So why did I decide to tell you all this story?! Initially, I didn’t know, I was just listening to God’s voice in my ear, but now at the end of this post, I think I know why…..I think God is asking me to let it go. To let the shame, go. To let the expectation of a 29-year-old woman go, to let go of this failure that I’ve been holding on to and to free up space for HIM to come in, even in the mundane things of this world like getting my license……So at this point I know I will get my license and I will get comfortable driving again in the future BUT I am deciding to let it go!


Thanks for reading…..it was lowkey highkey eating me up inside.


Till next time, drive safe!


Ibiyemi


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