26 In Beaches + Ocean Activities/ Travel Talk

Let’s Get Real – Facing Fears

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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  • Reply
    Jakey B
    December 18, 2016 at 6:34 am

    This is going to sound like an odd fear, but I used to be petrified of the local bus station. I had been in there hundreds of times and it was fine, but one night, I dreamt that i was in there and it had collapsed and then I was always scared it would collapse whilst I was in there. I sort of cheated my way out of that fear though, as the knocked it down a few years back (luckily I wasn’t in there at the time!!)

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 22, 2016 at 7:33 pm

      I don’t think that that sounds odd – especially since it sort-of happened. It was like a premonition to not be there when they knocked it down… Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    December 19, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Great that you share one of your fears. It makes your blog personal and it is indeed nice to read something like this instead of all the sunshine stories. I can totally understand your fear. Personally I am also having a fear for swimming in the ocean. I just don’t like the idea that you have no idea what is swimming beneath you haha 😉

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 22, 2016 at 7:35 pm

      Thank you so much! I really appreciate that. I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s afraid of the ocean. You’re absolutely right, it’s totally creepy not knowing what’s swimming, living or eating underneath you! Eeshk!

  • Reply
    December 19, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    I love the ocean, but just like you I don’t like getting in it. Well, I do, but the older I get the more fear I have. It’s strange because I use to have no fears of getting in. I would loooove to go scuba diving, but I feel that I will have a panic attack. Hopefully someday I can get over some of these fears 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 22, 2016 at 7:38 pm

      I’ve been so amazed to find that so many other people are afraid of the ocean. I’m with you, I love the idea of scuba diving, but I think I would just totally freak out during it! Perhaps on day we’ll both be able to scuba and swim in the ocean with no fears.

  • Reply
    Cori Carl
    December 19, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    I also hate going into deep water, despite having grown up on the beach and in the water. Like you, it doesn’t keep me on land, but it certainly makes things interesting.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 22, 2016 at 7:41 pm

      Wow! I’m so excited to hear that I’m not alone, and I’m glad that you also try to get back in it! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    December 19, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    I have the most crippling fear of snakes. I can’t look at pictures or watch videos of them without going into a panic attack. It has definitely stopped me from going to places before, I let my boyfriend go to Costa Rica with his mum rather than me because I knew it was likely they would see one (they saw one jumping between trees in the rainforest, I mean WTF!!! How can a snake jump?? It has no legs!!!) I wish I could get over it, I managed Australia without seeing one so surely I can go to other places, but it’s always at the back of my mind!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 22, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      Wow! Snakes! I hate seeing them in person because I’m so nervous that they’re venomous! I had no idea that they can jump though! That’s so scary! Thanks for sharing your fears (and adding one to my list now! 😉 )

  • Reply
    December 20, 2016 at 12:53 am

    It is important to push yourself out of your comfort zone and traveling provides ample opportunities to do just that. That’s one reason I love traveling so much , I would do crazy things (even if I am shit scared) and end up enjoying the experience.

  • Reply
    December 20, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Its so imp to get out of your comfort zone and be fearless. Travel gives u so many opportunities to do that. I try n face my fears too and it usually ends up being a good experience 🙂 i say go for it.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 22, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      Travel definitely does give a person loads of opportunities to face fears. I have more than this one, but I try to push myself esch time!

  • Reply
    Live Learn Venture (@LiveLearnVentur)
    December 20, 2016 at 9:33 am

    Way to be open and honest about it! My hubby also has issues with going deep into the ocean — but he does like walking along the ocean during a sunset or sunrise. Everything has something that scares them — we just have to slowly face our fears each day! 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 22, 2016 at 7:59 pm

      My husband is also not a huge fan of the ocean. We both love to walk down the beach and photograph it and I want to WANT to get in the ocean, but I’m just not there quite yet. 🙂

  • Reply
    Nano @ Travel With Nano B.
    December 20, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    What a great post, Paige! I personally have been always afraid of swimming in the deep sea. I love swimming, but I was terrified of the infinite space underneath me (strangely enough I am NOT scared of big waves). So I decided to try diving to get over that fear, and it helped! Somehow seeing the beauty of the underwater world helped overcome the fear of the depth. I still hate deep pools, but at least oceans don’t scare me that much. xoxo, nano | http://www.travelwithnanob.com

  • Reply
    Alyssa Ramos - MyLifesAMovie.com
    December 21, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Great post, it’s always good to hear that travelers have some fears of their own, and how they overcome them! I’d definitely be terrified of that ship wreck as well though! Eeeek!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Love this! I used to be scared and anxious by everything before I began traveling the world. It’s so important to be open to new experiences!

  • Reply
    Laura Nalin
    December 21, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing this bit about yourself! I personally love the ocean, but we definitely all have something that scares us. I’m glad you were able to face your fear and push yourself, but also recognize that your limits had been met. Cheers to you, girl.

  • Reply
    Claire Sturzaker
    December 21, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    Travelling can be scary – and I do try and push myself to do things I am scared of as usually I end up really enjoying them! An exception for me was the Death Road in Bolivia when I was so terrified I had to stop! Sometimes you have to know your limits & push them – but accept when it can’t be done! Hope you can take it easy and begin to face your fear more slowly next time!

  • Reply
    Sally from Passport & Plates
    December 22, 2016 at 2:06 am

    Love how honest you are in this post! I think we all have certain fears that hold us back and it’s definitely important to push yourself (but also know your limits as well)! I imagine I wouldn’t be too comfortable exploring a shipwreck either!

  • Reply
    December 22, 2016 at 11:40 am

    It’s good that you face your fears but no need to push yourself to the point of putting your life in danger (or feeling unacceptably uncomfortable) – good for you for knowing your boundaries and sticking to them!

  • Reply
    December 22, 2016 at 11:49 am

    I’ve been working through my own fears of the ocean. It’s a big, powerful, and scary thing. I do think having a healthy fear of the ocean is in our best interest. I never swim alone and follow guidelines provided by the local authorities. As scary as it is, it is a beautiful place to explore.

  • Reply
    Swati & Sam (The Tales of a Traveler)
    December 22, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    You have just nailed it. Same here, I too love walking and watching sunsets but going deep in the ocean scares me. I think overcoming fear is a good thing but we should also know our limitation and not just to replicate others and blindly follow a quote.

  • Reply
    November 18, 2017 at 5:21 am

    Thanks for the honesty. when I was learning to dive I used to have panic attacks all the time and it is truly terrifying as any rational thought goes out of your head which is not great if you are underwater. What worked for me was going and doing my divemaster course and facing my fear head on. Maybe you could do a lifesaving course or swimming course to build your confidence. Glad you got to see the LIberty though as that is one of my favourite dives although it is a pain to get to.

  • Reply
    Exploring Iceland's Golden Circle in the Winter - For the Love of Wanderlust
    December 3, 2017 at 1:42 am

    […] The biggest thing I wish I would’ve done is visit Silfra. It’s a location where you can snorkel or dive between tectonic plates. We obviously decided that this was more of a summer activity than winter activity, just for comfort, but you can do it in any season. There are a few big reasons that I’m really wanting to give it a go. You can swim between the tectonic plates, you can snorkel and experience it – no diving certification necessary, and it’s not the ocean; it’s a lake. (Read more about my fear of the ocean here.) […]

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