In January I passed my driving test and was really excited to finally gain a bit more independence, not having to rely on people to always give me lifts or always using public transport. However, the longer I’ve been driving I’ve noticed one very frustrating thing: society doesn’t leave any room for people to learn. I noticed this when I first started my job too. Every so often I would be speaking to a rude customer and they would say, “Are you new?” As if their frustration was completely down to the fact that I was still learning how to do my job and that being new and still learning was a bad thing. In regards to driving, I may have passed my test but tonight was the first time I’d driven to Belfast, and all the lane changes were quite confusing.

Here’s a quick summary of what happened:

  • I realised, at the last minute, that I needed to change lanes.
  • I had checked in my mirror, was certain no one was coming up behind me, and went to move over.
  • All of a sudden someone beeps their horn, but they don’t just do it briefly, they held it down for what was about 5 or 6 seconds (actually a reasonably long time).

It came across as very aggressive and actually had me in tears because I got so panicked by it all. To add to the trouble, in Northern Ireland you have to drive with ‘R’ plates (restricted) for the first year after you pass your test, allowing everyone on the road to know you haven’t been driving for very long. My issue with ‘R’ plates and how they do more harm than good in causing other drivers to think this means it’s their job to “teach you a lesson” or put you through some sort of sorority/fraternity style initiation is a whole other post, so I won’t bore you with that now.

It just really bothers me that every single person who has a driving license in the UK has been through the same process as me, but eventually something inside them goes, “Okay, you’ve been driving long enough to treat people like crap because you have no patience. Yep, that’s fine.” It’s the same in work: every person I speak to had to learn to do their job so why am I not allowed to learn to do mine?

It’s the same in so many situations; if you’re not perfect straight away you’re not good enough. I think it’s something to do with selfishness and self-entitlement, but I’m not too sure. Mostly I think it’s just a bullying tactic, to make yourself feel better because you’re not new to whatever it is you’re doing, or, in regards to dealing with customers, to make the person feel like they’ve failed at their job somehow because you haven’t got the response you wanted. We don’t laugh at people in school or university who are learning about a new subject for the first time, so why do we do it in other areas of life?

I think bullying is a big problem in society, to be honest, and not just between school kids. It happens at university, in the workplace, in day to day interactions with strangers, on the roads… And yet we’re all shocked when we hear stories of teenagers killing themselves because they’ve been picked on so terribly by their peers. The world is a harsh place but it appears to all be fun and games until someone gets hurt. But, as I’ve learnt through a job in customer service, adults are more immature than six year olds. I have said countless times that I would rather work with small children than adults because children use more logic than a lot of the people I’ve spoken to. If we don’t want our children to be bullied or be bullies we have to start acting like adults, not mirroring the negative attitudes that we have given to our children, because children learn from the people around them and, for most, those people are adults.

People need to learn, and I wish more had the opportunity to learn from responsible, mature adults. We need to give people space, we need to encourage them, and we need to build them up, not bully them and make them feel small. Being a bully only makes you look like an idiot.