Background: I wrote this while I learned and practiced driving during the six months I had my learner’s permit. I wrote it for the Nebraska Youth Poet Laureate in Spring of 2022.

TW/CW: Anxiety, depression, and (little mention of) suicidal thoughts.

Last revised: April 14, 2022

Dear Young Drivers

(Lyrics used are from Hamilton’s “That Would Be Enough” and Macklemore’s ”Light Tunnels”)


The whole world is in your hands

And feet, as you gain experience in the realm of driving


You just got your learner’s permit? How exciting!

How anxious! Well, for me and for you

As much as I wish, I can’t control other drivers,

So, I’ll try to control myself.


You’ve reached the magical age of 16.

By law, if you answer some questions correctly,

Then you should be able to engage in this dangerous activity


Driving makes me apprehensive, which can cause accidental carelessness

Or too much attention to one thing.

Sarcastically I’ll say, “nice turn signal, bud, I love it”


My mind drifts when I need to focus on the road

Speaking from my experience of five months, here’s some advice:

Don’t accelerate when parking, especially in a parking garage.

Don’t shift into drive instead of reverse.

Don’t turn off the engine before shifting into park.


Same parking garage, slowly I train myself how to park properly

PTSD fuels and distracts my mind as I try not to make the same mistake

Feeling like once I get to the same spot as before, I’ll be doomed to relive that same incident.


In this poem, recording my blunders makes me feel worse for going to such an effort of pointing these out to myself

But also a way of easing the anxiety I have when I drive by getting it out onto paper

And, most likely, there’s people out there that can relate

While teaching others by my experiences as to what driving is like


Americans pride themselves of being able to drive themselves around

If you take a look at Europe, not many people actually own a car

In America, driving yourself is independence and freedom

It was only luxury 100 years ago


Public transportation via trains and buses is how Europe networks

Perhaps that’s more fuel-efficient, less carbon footprint, less breakdowns, less accidents, and less dangers, but what do I know?

I grew up in the States, a car is the main way of travel


This machine that can go so fast, I’m in control, yet that’s terrifying.

Have you seen the accidents?

Do you know the statistics of driving and dying?

It feels so good to whisk along the highway and feel the speed

It’s 10pm, my eyelids heavy, only the fear of falling asleep at the wheel keeps me awake

This mixed with suicidal thoughts is where the danger accelerates in

I dance to music no one else can hear


It seems I’ve googled so many times to see what happened later after having to detour around another accident.

The drinking driver on hwy 77 at 9:07 pm on Wednesday, February 23, 2022. A 52 year old woman died not wearing a seat belt from driving in the lane of oncoming traffic. There was fire.

The motorcycle crash on 56th. Never learned more. Maybe I didn’t want to, to save my grief.

Accidents can be fatal

I drive by looking and thinking, “that could be me”


Now where has time gone?

I’m a Junior, it was only yesterday when I was a freshman

Now I’m in the driver’s seat,

But feels like I’m the backseat of my own life


Life is like being on the hwy, going 75 mph and no rest stop for miles.

The grind never stops

But I don’t want life to pass me by and forget to live it.


The boulevards becomes a river when the rain pours on it

Slick slippery roads at night when the streetlights shine on it, it glares back at you as you look for those white lines that mark the lanes


This one street has purple streetlights

The cement turns into the jet black ocean

And I’d be sinking if I didn’t see the difference between driving and cruising


Even though the storm outside and of mental illness is strong

God is stronger

Even when the waters on the road and in my eyes won’t stop rising

God is with me.


Look around, look around

It’s something I tend to forget to do

Look around, look around

At how lucky we are to be alive right now


Whoops – don’t drift in your lane in the rain

I’m hypersensitive to distractions when my parents drive,

Scared of crashing, scared of dying,

And unusual sounds and noises from the car.


Just an outsider trying to look in

As we pass by and see

The collision downtown on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. Police blocked streets, there was a firefighter and an ambulance. Another fire truck drove past us, up the one-way street.

Whatever happened on O st and 25th on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.


But look at where you are

Look at where you started

The fact that you’re alive is a miracle

Just stay alive, and that would be enough


The wind moves sheets of rain like waves on the sea

I am a ship, departed from the ports

Out on the wide, ocean black

Don’t let the wind push you off course


Hydroplaning, sliding between lanes

You’re not in control anymore

But, were you ever?


I drive in the survival gear, survival mode

This is not a game, sir

Don’t be so reckless, I want to live today

Look out for other drivers, cannot predict what they’ll do


God is in control

He’s got your back

In the end, it’s gonna be okay

But let God take the driver’s seat, 

Not sit in the back or just be your co-pilot.


Dear young drivers,

Be safe. Learn from your mistakes.

Please don’t do stupid

Don’t drive tired or with a battle of intrusive thoughts.

Remember God is with you.



Someone who gets it and cares.



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