I drove automatics in high school and never wanted to try a 5 speed manual. I learned several years after I got out of high school. I wanted the 2000 Acura NSX or 2001 Honda S2000 and the S2000 only came in manual so I borrowed my friends 5 speed civic and beat the crap out of it in a huge parking lot for about a week then figured it out and went and bought the S2000. I still had the fear of driving at night and several late nights later I was just fine and to the day I will take a manual over any automatic, SMG, DCT, etc transmission. Just feels a lot better having been in those types of cars. I do have an automatic X5 for practicality and love it.
If you learn how to drive a 5 speed in downtown SF I would fear no other highway/road in America.