Sometimes My Lack of Awareness is Astounding
When I found out that Honduras is one of the cheapest places to get your diving certification, I decided to give it a go. I was headed there anyway, so why not?
Well, I mean, other than the stories that my parents can tell. Like the one where they took me to infant swim class which didn’t go so well and years later when I found the floaties in a closet, I started screaming. Apparently I was so scared of the little bits of thin orange plastic, I sounded like someone was trying to kill me.
Or how I wouldn’t wash my face above my nose because I was convinced that having water on my face, put there with my own hands, would cause me to drown. Makes it kind of hard to believe I’m a Pisces.
Interestingly enough, I blocked both of those stories until after my first confined water dive. Where I panicked. I got in my gear, hesitated a bit, took my long step of the boat, did my buddy checks, deflated my BCD (the floaty vest thing for diving), and my brain went wild.
Holding My Own Head Under Water
As soon as my face was under water, it was like I couldn’t get enough air, like there wasn’t enough air in the world. Logically, I knew I was safe: I was in water shallow enough to stand in, I had a functioning regulator, I had at least three people near me who knew exactly what they were doing. And still, my brain started screaming at me “You’re under water, quit trying to breathe! What’s wrong with you, stop it, stop it now! You’re under water, you can’t breathe here!”
And so I popped back up.
And tried again.
And pretty much immediately, popped back up.
Can’t vs. Don’t, Round Two
It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, but I couldn’t do it that way. I needed to circle the idea and poke at it a bit. (A point here about finding the right instructor for you, really look for someone you react well to. I had no idea that I would freak, but everyone I dealt with at the shop, Parrot’s Dive Center, seemed laid back and capable of adjusting to any situation, so I had felt comfortable with the shop.)
Alfred handed me off to Larson to take me for a swim, just with my face in the water. We swam a bit and Larson pointed out pretty little skittering fish. Then we went down a bit with my whole head under but still in water I could stand in. More swimming, more fish, and lots of sand. And then we went down a bit further and found some little sting rays. I never thought I’d say that sting rays are cute, but those were.
By the time the rest of my class had finished their skills, I had calmed down enough to do mine one on one with Alfred while Delaney did surface skills with the others. I went under, repeating in my head “You are safe. You have plenty of air. You can do this.” until I actually believed it. I also fully engaged in the ‘What’s Next?’ method which seemed to be Alfred’s way of teaching in that situation too.
Triumph, Not Just a Puppet
I did my surface skills the next day while the others snorkeled and was caught back up. Five days and one hurricane later, I’ve got my PADI Open Water Certification, and a list of specialties I want to try: Night, Wreck, Cave, and Ice.
Whatever you want to do, you can get there. No promises that it’ll be easy, but the worthwhile stuff hardly ever is. If there’s something you’ve been working towards or thinking about going after, please think about sharing in the comments, I’d love to hear about it.
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In the comments:
We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud. What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)