Today, I'm going to teach you how to learn to drive stick.
Now, don't get too excited—notice I said how to learn, not how to. You might be wondering, though—why bother? I mean, isn't that the point of automatic transmissions, that they automatically shift through the gears? If that's what you're thinking, here are a few things to consider:
1. Manual transmission cars are significantly cheaper than automatic, so if you're looking to save money, learning to drive stick is a good investment of your time.
2. There may come a time when knowing how to drive manual will save your butt. Maybe you have to get an emergency rental car and all they have are manuals. Maybe a friend or coworker will have some sort of situation, or be too drunk to drive their manual transmission car. It's not terribly fun to grind and hitch through gears with a pukey drunk in the car.
3. Major cool points, especially if you're female.
Then, I sat down on the floor, with the piece of paper under my right hand, and...practiced. Practiced coordinating left foot with right foot with right hand, shifting first through fifth and back down, over and over and over. This might sound unnecessary, but believe me, this is the step that counted the most. The coordination of feet and hands, the positions of the gears—being comfortable with that before I got in the car made a huge difference.
Relax. Try again. This is not something you're going to master in a day, or a week, or even a month. It's not a talent, it's a skill. Skills are learned through practice, and as long as you keep practicing you'll master it in no time.