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Monday, April 22, 2024

Life is a (metaphorical) highway: an analysis of driving habits and life

I love my mother, and I hate stereotypes about Asian women, but I’m going to come clean and say this: She is not a good driver. I, unfortunately, have inherited this trait from her.

It’s not that we are bad drivers, per se. We are just overly cautious, and we second-guess our driving moves.

I’d like to think I am at least a bit better than her when it comes to turning into traffic — once in my childhood, some man had to get out of his car to direct oncoming cars so she could turn — but my abysmal parking evens it out.

We both get nervous when we drive in the rain, we both like to have someone else in the car to tell us if the lane is clear and we both change lanes as soon as we can so we don’t have to deal with it later.

My dad says we both need more practice, but I think our problem stems from another issue entirely.

See, my dad considers my younger sister to be a better driver than my mother and me, and she’s definitely had less driving experience than us.

The thing is, she’s confident enough to quickly make a decision and then go with it, even if that decision involves almost hitting the car in front of us because she thought she could make a light or grazing a car when she thought she had more room to back out.

She makes her decisions quickly, even if they aren’t good ones, but my mother and I hesitate to the point at which any decision we make will be a bad one.

Outside of driving, my father and sister are confident and unwavering, but my mother and I are cautious and fluctuating.

This isn’t just exclusive to my family, though. I’ve often noticed, after years of being in cars driven by my friends, their driving habits often reflect their personalities. Confident, self-assured people will make quick decisions; quieter, more anxious people will be cautious.

Sometimes those quick decisions are the wrong decisions. Sometimes cautious decisions are the right ones.

To quote the only Rascal Flatts song I know, “Life is a highway.” You’re driving for all of it, and you have to make decisions as turns come around and traffic increases.

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Obviously, the decisions you make will be influenced by your dominant personality traits: Do you turn right now or hesitate a bit? Do you take the long, scenic route to avoid traffic or would you rather grit your teeth and hope the traffic clears up?

And sometimes, very often in fact, you make the wrong decision.

In times like that, you just have to stick with it and use all your skills and resources to find a way out of it — whether it be your patience, your ability to quickly change lanes or the car full of people that’s guiding you.

Sometimes, it’s the other people who have made the bad decisions who are affecting you, and you have to navigate around them. It’s easy to get angry at them, but remember, you might have been in that situation before.

And sometimes, you just drop off your mom at the bus stop and decide to get gas but miss the turn and end up aimlessly wandering Gainesville for more than half an hour, doing a five-point turn on some residential street and pissing off some people at a gas station. At least in the end, you end up learning how to navigate Gainesville a little better.

Petrana Radulovic is a UF English and computer science senior. Her column appears on Thursdays.

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