Written on July 23, 2015
It has been a few years since I made the decision to learn swimming. Few years ago, I had started taking swimming lessons and found myself going absolutely nowhere with it. Looking back though, I have come very very far. Long long time ago, the thought of water had scared me. “The waves will come and take you with them” is what the voice in my head would say. “You will drown and die. Just like that.” But I had always watched people swim. They always looked so cool. Ever since I was little, I would watch swimming competitions without any care for the actual score and focus on how cool it was to just flow through water without drowning. Upon coming to Canada, I had watched little kids just jump into pools without any kind of fear and come out alive. That had amazed me. At the first few swimming lessons I took years ago, I had held onto the side of the stairs very tightly. The water moving up and down gave me the feeling that at any time, it could pass over you. The weight of the water felt like it was trying to pull me in and consume me. It was quite scary but I continued going to those lessons.
After a whole semester of classes, I could finally stay in the water without fear. I could at least float on my back and I knew what to do with my legs (how to move them etc). In the following semester, I joined the swimming class again and gave up. I felt like I was stuck and was going nowhere. Fear does not leave in a day, I knew that. Few years later, I moved to Saskatchewan and we started going to the lake in the Summer. It was fun. We got into the lake, tried to swim and it just felt good. I still couldn’t swim though. The best I could do was float on my back. I couldn’t float on my front. The thought of putting my face into the water constricted my air pipe so well that it often ended up in me breathing in water and coughing vigorously. Even when I put my head into the water by choice, unknowingly, something in me always firmed up my chest as if beneath the air and inside the water awaited death.
I started noticing that more as I started going to the pool myself these days. As soon as the water is at my neck, my first instinct is to become so firm that nothing can hurt me. As I wait for myself to loosen up so I can take a dip into the water, I realized it was so hard to trust the water. I am not even thinking anything anymore. My body is just automatically becoming firm to protect itself. Without me knowing, this is all happening. And the worst part is that it’s almost impossible to loosen up. But… I get there. I choose to close my eyes, hold my nose tight, untie the knots around my air pipe so air can flow in and out like a normal breath for a few mins and then I sink into the water. While in the water, I try to stay as loose as I can, breathe out slowly (as suggested by all instructors) and four exhalations later, a sudden realization of not having enough oxygen comes to mind, popping my head right out like a rocket launching into the sky. I try that a few times often having spent all my energy in trying something that feels like a walk into death. I hold onto the side of the pool tightly, wipe my face and tremble due to the touch of the cool breeze. I sink my upper body into the pool and look at the sun shining. Shining so brightly. Directly at me. This is who I was meant to be…
A person who walks into her fears over and over again, getting a lil’ shaken and a lil’ stronger each time. Each moment spent in overcoming your fears is a moment gained. Each moment spent thinking you have failed is a moment wasted. Pursuing this dream all alone in a pool full of strangers has made me realize how strong and determined I am. How I have becomes successful in throwing away thoughts of what people might think seeing an adult unable to swim and have decided to be vulnerable with every passing moment. How in my vulnerability, my fears and my determination, I felt extremely comfortable. All that time spent in wanting to be in the water. All that time spent in thinking how it would never be possible. All that time spent in thinking that it’s too hard to accomplish. All a waste of time….
The only real moments are the ones in which you work toward your dreams feeling completely undefeated, because even if you are vulnerable, at least with every single breath you take, you are you. I find comfort in who I am today because I being comfortable today will take me where I need to go. If I spend time forcing myself to be someone that I am yet to be, it would never work out. Me and myself today need to be in sync with each other today for me and myself to be in sync with each other tomorrow. I cannot throw away my inabilities. I cannot ignore them either. If something is important to me, I have to accept my inabilities and work towards them without much expectation. That is the least I can do for myself today,
So can I trust the water? Perhaps I don’t need to. Perhaps I just have to learn to be more comfortable in who I am today and as those knots unfold, I simply will transition into water little by little. Unknowingly.
Let yourself unfold,