I have a completely irrational fear of the water. I blame the movie Jaws. And one time when we were house boating as a kid and I was swimming in a lake with my mom and she said “Imagine if something grabbed your foot.” Thanks a lot mom. That’s the type of thing that keeps a kid awake at night. This fear is so irrational that I’m uncomfortable even in the deep end of a pool. Especially if I’m alone. Because my mind thinks there might be a shark lurking. Yes, even in a pool. I warned you this was an irrational fear.
I’m even more skiddish in the ocean. Don’t get me wrong. I can swim, but I would never go into the ocean alone. Like ever. But if I’m with someone I trust I will, but not very deep. One of the long standing things on my lengthy list of things to do before I die, was to try scuba diving. Here, you’re probably saying to yourself….didn’t she say she’s afraid of water?? Yes I am, but I’m a firm believer of walking head first into my fears. Which is why when I was in the Maldives in April, I signed up for a beginners scuba diving class.
I signed up the day before the class. And immediately that voice in my head was like you’re going to die. Or be eaten by a shark. I started to have sign-up remorse. The following morning before the class that same voice was trying to talk me out of it. You don’t have to go. You don’t feel well. And the voice was right- I didn’t feel well, but I knew it was just anxiety. So to the class I went. It didn’t help that the dive instructors took great pleasure in playing off my fears by making jokes like…..Do you know what happens if you see a shark. You die. Not. Funny. FYI. So the class started off with the group of us watching a video. There were 6 students and the 2 dive instructors. So we watch the video. And I’m like this isn’t too bad. And then we don the dive gear. And that wasn’t so bad. It’s heavy and throws your balance off, but we were still on land so everything was ok.
Then we entered with water. And did a quick lesson in the shallow water. It was difficult to remember to breathe only thru your mouth. My mask kept leaking which didn’t help my anxiety and I was having a hard time clearing it. Luckily, one of the dive instructors (probably realizing I was the weakest link) was at my side. We had to show a couple skills before going into the deeper water. This included clearing your mask, and how to get your regulator back if you lost it. So then we moved into deeper water. I’m not even sure how I made it to this point except that it took so much effort remembering to breathe with the regulator that I didn’t have time to be scared of the water or to be looking around to see if Jaws was coming. Every time I went down my mask would start to leak, which would cause me to panic and I would make the signal for I’m going up like a mad woman. And the dive instructor would come up with me, and give me a pep talk and we would go back down. Then my mask would leak, I would panic, and back up we would go. We got down to about 5ft. And I lasted for about a minute at that depth. And then that was enough for me. I felt bad getting all the attention from the dive instructor. And my leaking mask wasn’t helping the situation. But I got further than I thought I would. My travel mate said she didn’t even expect me to get into the water. But I did. And to be honest, I’d like to try it again. Without a leaking mask. And with an instructor who’s only responsibility is me. I’m not saying I will love it, but I would definitely like to give it another try. I’m even making plans to in August, when I’m in Sharm el Sheikh Egypt for a long weekend. So scuba diving I will see you again very soon….