We’ve all heard the saying “feel the fear and do it anyway” haven’t we? But how often do you do something that scares you? I don’t mean anything that puts you in harms way, but pushing yourself to be bold and take a leap of faith. I’ll be the first to admit that I often languish in my comfort zone for far too long. But the more I venture outside of it the braver I become. Growth comes from taking risks, and that’s why it’s good to do something that scares you every so often.
Regret is pointless – even when things don’t go to plan. There’s a lesson to be learned in everything. In fact I wish I’d taken more risks when I was younger. I don’t want to look back on my life and wish I’d been braver. I believe in making the most of opportunites when they come along, because there may not be another chance. Life is not a dress rehearsal.
While visiting my mum’s over half term I was looking through some old school reports and photos. The school reports all said I had potential but was too quiet and shy. One even said “I think we all like you more than you like yourself. You could have so much”. Undoubtedly, lack of confidence was a big factor in my reluctance to try new experiences and open myself up to criticism. Nobody likes trying and failing, but not trying is an even bigger failure in my opinion.
Among the photos were some of a holiday to Key West that I won in a newspaper competition in the mid 90s (proof right there that if you keep trying it eventually pays off). I did a lot of competitions back then and had a few decent wins, the week in Florida complete with car hire and spending money being the best of the lot. While I was there I had the opportunity to try scuba diving. That might not sound like a big deal to most people, but I’m not at all confident in water. I hate being out of my depth in a pool, so submerging myself in the open sea, reliant upon a mask and tank of oxygen scared the hell out of me. But my boyfriend at the time was keen to try it so reluctantly I decided to give it a go.
After a morning of instruction in the hotel pool we set off on the boat along with a few other people. When we stopped at the dive site and were told we had to jump in I thought it was game over for me. I had never even jumped into the local swimming pool before so throwing myself off the side of a boat into the sea wearing heavy diving paraphernalia filled me with terror. Of course all the others did it without giving it a second thought, unlike me who stood teetering on the edge feeling like a complete wimp. When I finally jumped in I got a cheer. But there was no time to feel smug because then it was time to descend…and the real panic set in.
Breathing underwater fundamentally messed with my mind; it’s just not possible for humans, at least that’s what my brain was telling me. I immediately started hyperventilating and my heartrate rocketed, but I couldn’t bail out after getting this far. Luckily, the instructor was lovely and held my hand the whole time, while I held onto my mask for dear life. Wearing contact lenses (and not being able to see further than the end of my nose without them) makes my relationship with water tricky at the best of times.
We saw some amazing fish and beautiful coral, but before I knew it the dive was over and we were back on the boat. I felt immensely exhilarated as well as relieved for having survived the experience. I even got a seahorse tattoo a couple of days afterwards as a souvenir! Scuba diving wasn’t something I’d ever contemplated, but I was so glad I tried it, even though I found it terrifying. So far, that’s been my one and only scuba diving experience, but lately I’ve been thinking about trying it again. I’m sure my husband would love it because he’s like a fish in water. We take the snorkelling gear whenever we go on holiday.
Unfortunately, living in landlocked Cheshire doesn’t present many opportunities to go scuba diving. But if I was lucky enough to take regular beach holidays I may consider taking a PADI course and investing in some equipment such as a mask and a drysuit. I imagine it can be quite an addictive activity once you get over the initial apprehension. There’s a whole other world down there under the sea that we only usually see on TV; one that’s sadly being jeopardised by our behaviour. I’d like to fully appreciate it while I still can. If I get another chance I’m jumping straight in.
*Disclamer: This post is in collaboration with Simply Scuba. All words and opinions are my own.