Sharks, Deep Seas & Waves, Oh My

October 26, 2010

in scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing

Scuba diving. Surfing. Sky diving. Bungee jumping.

This is the list of things I always thought it would be cool to do “someday in the future” or “if I got the chance.” This translates to: I was never going to really do these things if I could help it because they scare the bejesus out of me.

There. I said it.

In the next two weeks, though, I will in fact do two of the things on that list–scuba dive and surf. There are several reasons why these things unnerve me.

Snorkeling scared me, so I can’t imagine what scuba diving will be like. When I went to see what lurked beneath at Manly a few months ago, I panicked. When I looked further into the water, I saw murky nothingness. What was out there? The uncertainty and the slim, slippery creatures swimming everywhere made me feel like I was in a place in which I had no right to be.

I eventually calmed down that day and wound up having one of my best experiences in Australia to date. I snorkeled again after that and am OK with it now. But diving deep into the water and being unable to breathe without the help of a tank literally seems like a giant plunge.  And this news story about the gigantic shark swimming off Queensland that no one seems to be able to track makes it worse.

Snorkeling at Shelly Beach near Manly on Easter weekend. Photo by FBH

With surfing, I’m afraid I won’t be able to get on the board and that if I do, I’ll be demolished by a huge wave that will break my bones and/or drown me. Yes, I know I’m setting that up as a lose-lose, but it’s honest.

By the way, did I mention I grew up near the beach? It’s fine for swimming and bodyboarding and chilling on a boat or fishing. This other stuff? Meh.

What I’m telling myself to prepare for these two events is simple: act like a kid again. Most of us were unfazed little go-getters back then. I performed in dance recitals without issue, went roller skating with abandon and rode my bike down steep hills without fear. It was only when I hit adolescence that I thought twice about doing those things.

The difference, I realize, is that as a kid, I didn’t care what people thought or fear getting hurt. Fall off your bike=get a cool scar and a bandage from Mom. Slip while roller skating? Brush yourself off and go round again. Mess up a dance? Keep smiling and pick up where you left off.

We forget these simple things when we get older. All of a sudden, everything matters a lot and is a make or break affair. We care too much about others’ impressions. We leave no room for screwing up, for learning, for failing.

I know it will be hard, but for the next few weeks, I’m going to attempt to reclaim some of that childlike confidence and carefree attitude. I will try, and if I fail or need a moment to literally catch my breath, I will deal with it and move on. If I’m not good at these things I try, I’ll go easy on myself and remember it doesn’t make me a less cool or adventurous or open-minded person.

Inner 10-year-old, I summon your courage.

4 Comments - Add Yours!

  1. Charlie Murphy from Lake Minnetonka

    Lauren- that was a great read, and really appreciate your approach to being ‘a kid’ again, it will serve you well. I read that article about the shark to, and it appears that the shark has headed south of QLD, so you should be ok. The people in New South Wales? Not so much. Have a great time!

    Reply
  2. Heather

    Rock it girl. Take up the Eleanor Roosevelt challenge to “Do one thing every day that scares you” to for the surf & diving!

    PS I have no desire to surf either. So proud of you!

    Reply
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  4. Lauren Post author

    Thanks “Charlie.” 🙂 Heather, I’m glad you had a good experience when you did it. I may be texting you for support during my freak out the day before and of!

    Reply

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