When I was in Thailand last year, I wrote a post called ‘Let’s Get Real’ all about how travel isn’t sunshine and rainbows and today I was thinking about other parts of travel that can be challenging and decided I’d make a periodic series out of getting real about the struggles of travel and other topics related to it.
Today, someone liked a photo of mine from a long way back about snorkeling in Bali, and I’m going to tell you something that many of you may be shocked by, but I HATE getting in the ocean! I love to walk along it, watch the sun rise or set over it, but in 2013 when I swam with manatees, I acquired a very out-of-the-blue fear of the ocean.
Just five years earlier, I was in Mexico and I had no issues swimming way out into the ocean, snorkeling with my family or even playing around just off the shore. It was just something about being all alone in the ocean for the first time I think, but unfortunately for me, it stuck. I have an irreparable and very deep fear of the ocean now.
I think the caption + hashtags on this Instagram photo say it all. (Refresh page if the photo isn’t visible)
Even though I have a serious fear, I always try to push myself to get over this fear, but I have to tell you it’s so damn hard. Although I’ve gone in the water over a dozen times since my initial fear, each one takes effort – some more than others. When I was in Bali, we decided that we wanted to swim out to the USS Liberty Shipwreck. I’m pretty confident that I will never scuba dive, so getting to snorkel to a shipwreck seemed like something I couldn’t pass up.
So, we booked someone taking us to the site, and I sort-of thought that we would be boated out and just jump in on top of it, but we had to swim 25 meters out to it. Of course, that’s if you know where you’re going. Instead, we had no clue and decided to sort-of just follow a scuba group. That worked for a bit, but, of course, they were only visible for so long. We were there just a month before rainy season, so the oceans were pretty rough and I was not comfortable at all. I wasn’t as confident in my swimming as I wanted to be because of the strong currents, but I was determined. Then, there’ the other part… sharks. I’ve never seen sharks (other than whale sharks) anywhere other than the Gulf of Mexico, but I know they’re there and I don’t ever want to meet one up close. However, I didn’t want to miss out.
Let’s get real, I freaked out. Once I realized how deep the water was and I looked back to see how far we were from the shore and I realized the current had taken us much further from the coast, I was ready to get the heck out of the water, and I started to hyperventilate. Luckily, I was there with Stacey and she was awesome. She held my hand and even did “shark checks” on command (which was basically her sticking her head underwater and looking around for any sign of my impending death by shark). She talked me through and kept me calm. Another man near us in the water even offered to hold my hand, but I needed one to swim with. Ha! Instead, he swam ahead and hollered when he caught sight of the wreck.
We kicked over and I was so unbelievably proud of myself as I was looking down at the thing I worked so hard to see. It was fleeting though because soon after the feeling of pride, I was absolutely terrified! After only about five minutes, I launched into a full out panic attack. I was having trouble breathing, my heart was racing, I was treading water way further from the coast than I was comfortable with and I started to cry. I knew it was time for me to go back, but Stacey wasn’t ready. She sweetly offered to come back in with me, but I knew that she wanted to check it out longer.
Obviously, I made it back alive, and I can logically say that it was probably silly that I freaked out like that, but here’s the deal, fears go beyond logic. Fear is primal and everyone’s is different. I love pushing my boundaries, but I learned that day that there is no shame in saying, I’m done, and remove yourself from that situation. I am a naturally adventurous person and it almost pains me that I have this massive fear because I want so badly to love the ocean. I want to have the desire to scuba dive. I want to feel free and alive in the ocean. Instead, I’m insecure, on edge and frankly miserable. Believe it or not, that isn’t fun.
Let’s Get Real – Everyone Has Fears. Push your comfort zones, sure, but also be brave enough to know your limits.
What is your big fear? The ocean? Heights? I’d love to hear about how you push yourselves and how you have come to embrace your limitations.
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