Back in 2009, I packed my bags and went to Eastern Australia for 6 weeks. The plan was to get my scuba diving certification at the Great Barrier Reef, visit friends I met while traveling who live in Sydney and Melbourne and fill in the blanks on the go.
I was scared and excited – total mixed bag of emotions, I tell ya!
The KINK => I cannot swim, not really. I am scared of water. I can kinda swim the back stroke but if water splashes onto my face (with goggles ON) – I freak! I have drowned in a swimming pool, during adult swimming lessons, where the water was just deep enough that I cannot touch the bottom. So yes, there’s a slight problem. Reason for fear of water: I drowned to death in a past life – this is a recent discovery.
Before my arrival, I had registered for a 5 Day PADI Learn to Scuba Dive Course. What ended up happening was that I chickened out.
On the first day of class, I showed up, signed in, sat at a desk. Then I looked at the requirements for certification… the words “swim 200 metres or snorkel 300 metres and tread water/float for 10 minutes” – simply freaked me out! I am sure I read that before, I just don’t know why I glazed over it before committing myself – I had a mini-internal freak out!
The internal conversation went something like this: “Karen, you have never treaded water!!! Karen, you can barely swim or snorkel for 50 metres, how can you do 200??” Within minutes, before the instructor showed up, I got up, walked to the front desk, asked for a refund!… Thank God, they have a full refund policy on the first day! Thank you Pro Dive Cairns!
The end result was completely for the better! I took the money and time that would’ve been solely spent on one type of activity to full-blown diversification! Hot air ballooning. Scuba diving. Snorkeling. Excursion to the Daintree rainforest. White water rafting. I even found a local kinesiologist who did some work on my body. Then of course there was shopping at the outlet mall!
Some days I really don’t know where I find the courage to do the crazy, adventurous things that I do! Especially when I’m afraid of water. But I guess my love of fishies helped distract me from my phobia.
The good thing about the Intro dive I signed up for was that, the ratio of Dive master to newbie was 1 to 2! Takashi, the Dive master, literally held my hands the whole time, if I wanted him to. We went over the hand signals but I kept mixing up the thumb up with the okay sign. As I’m used to saying “I’m okay” with the thumb up sign.
The equalizing was the most difficult. I am not used to breathing through my mouth and try to make my ears pop. Try it yourself. Take a breath through your mouth, try to swallow to get your ears to pop. Remember your nose is doing nothing – no inhale, no exhale. Feels weird, right?!
Even though we only dove to a depth of 5 metres, I was happy and high as a kite! The underwater beauty at Michaelmas Cay left me speechless. This experience trumps all the cool and amazing aquariums I’ve ever visited, including the giant Ambassador tank at Atlantis Dubai resort. Side note: In 2 years time, I produced hundreds of structural drawings for the construction of the Atlantis Dubai project.
When I was fully immersed in the ocean, surrounded by sea life, I felt like I was in a completely different realm. Everything was peaceful, mesmerizing. I could stay there for hours, days even. I became a child in a candy store.
Fishies swim really fast, a lot of my photos ended up just different angles of coral reefs with maybe a shimmer of a tail or fin. But did I ever enjoy the experience! If somewhere down the road, I cannot get my full scuba dive certification, I will “Intro dive” my way to every place I go. However, I know there are many places where only pro-divers can go dive, especially cool ship wrecks – poop.
Fortunately, with lots of perseverance, I’ve finally learned to tread water at the end of 2013! I think acknowledging the events of my past life helped with overcoming the fear of water. Now I regularly go to the swimming pool at my local community centre to practice. I am a little bit closer to getting my certification!
Do what you want to do – remember to show yourself compassion.
Do not scare yourself out of an experience. Do not guilt yourself. Do not punish yourself.