i got my drivers license last week...

I was probably around the age of 12 when I developed a really solid group of friends. I longed for the freedom to go where I wanted to go, hang out with them and do adventures whenever I wanted.

I didn't look forward to my 15th birthday, I looked forward to getting my permit at 15 and 1/2. I didn't wait eagerly for the day I turned 16, I waited for the day I got my license. Driving has always been my marker. Because I think for me, living in Maui has always been so constricting. But I felt that getting my license might give me another shot at changing my mindset on the place I currently call home.

I remember the first time I drove, it was November, right around my 15th birthday. It was my church parking lot, in our 2016 Odyssey. The moment I first put my foot on the gas, wow, I had been waiting so long.

July 2, I remember the day. That was the day I got my permit. I was so happy. Now I could have the freedom to drive (with an adult accompaniment :). I just loved it, I was one step closer to accomplishing the goal I had set my heart on for so long.

Then in the summer of 2021, I started doing my driver's ed classes and my anxiety was through the roof, and I mean constant social anxiety. I think that's probably why the summer was so rough for me. Every Friday, from 9 am to 2 pm I did driver's ed, I had two 15 minute breaks to get lunch. I remember thinking, this is awful. Looking back, I'm glad I went through it for the experience and I was able to realize that I got through it and was okay, even though I learned nothing about actual driving in the course.

In the month of September, every Wednesday, I did an hour and a half of nerve-wracking behind-the-wheel sessions. The bright side of getting through the license process is now I have some good drivers ed stories to swap.

Finally, it was time, I took my first driver's test on December 27th. I failed, that was hard. I kind of expected it but when she told me I still felt like I was going to cry. I failed because of my parallel parking so I went back and practiced. Then I took my second test a week later, on January 5th and I passed, I was so happy.

The interesting thing is there's something else that happens after you get your license, now, you have to now drive alone. It's so nerve-wracking which I didn't expect. The first time I drove was to go play tennis and in those first few days I went to the grocery store a few times but my first "real" driving moment, was Saturday, I picked up my friend, and we spent all day together. I remember when I picked her up, I had my tortoise shell sunglasses on while "Crazy in Love" by Beyonce and Jay Z played in my (and my dad's

;) 2004 CRV.

She got in the car and we just stared at each other for a minute. Where to go? "We're going to make so many memories in this car," she said before we had even even backed out. It was like we had reached this whole new level in Candy Crush... level 16.

After I got on the road the first time I knew I would be fine. I knew what to do. But there are still certain moments where I catch myself driving home and I think, "Oh my gosh, I'm driving!" Sometimes I feel like I'm not qualified to do this. But in life, you move forward and progress. It's so crazy to think that one day I could be driving in like LA, Colorado, or even London.

Another thing that no one tells you is how much you grow in your relationships when you get your license. I'm able to pick up a friend and drive somewhere to just sit talk about our lives. Because I have my license, I'm seeing my friends more and when you already know everything going on in your life, you get to go a level deeper talk about bigger topics, you get to talk about your future, your relationships, your fears, the harder and bigger stuff.

Also, turns out I was right, having the ability to drive has helped my relationship with Maui, I feel so much freer. Somehow that freedom translates to letting loose a bit more and going to see the sunset or swim in the ocean. Driving also gives me the security to leave whenever I need to, which makes me feel better about going somewhere and not feeling stuck. It goes back to my self sufficient ways, now that I can drive, I don't have to rely on anyone and I am more comfortable saying yes, knowing I can leave when I need to.

The morning of your birthday, your aunt asks, "Do you feel older?" When I'm driving in those tortoise shell sunglasses, I do feel a year older. I feel I've accomplished something, completed a goal I had set for so long. And I think if l 12-year old Dev could see me driving on the road, playing music, hanging out with friends, she would be proud of how far I've come and the path I took to be here, where I am today.