Three Lessons I Learned Scuba Diving
Back in 2011, I went scuba diving for the first time. I was on vacation in Bali with my sister and one of my best friends, Tanya. Tanya is a seasoned scuba diver. When she asked my sister and me to join her scuba diving, my sister already answered a “yes” for both of us before I could get a word in. I remember my first gut reaction was “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” Not only was I fearful for myself, but as the older sister, I felt the responsibility to protect my younger sibling. I started telling them (and myself) all the excuses why we should not do it.
Me: “We don’t have certifications”
Tanya: “you don’t need it to do a discover dive” (This specific dive allows you to “try” scuba out without the commitment of the certification.)
Me: “it’s too far away, I don’t want to spend 3 hours in a car to get there”
Sister: “you are in Bali, it will be worth it” (duh!)
For every excuse, my sister and Tanya had an equally valid reason to do it and they both reassured me that we were going to be fine. I was out voted 2-1. I decided to accept my fate and went along for the ride (in this case, dive). The following day we were off to Tulamben. Tulamben is a small fishing town in Bali and located off its coast is a US sunken ship from World War II. It is one of the few places in the world you can walk from the beach to such an amazing diving spot.
A bumpy 3-hour car ride later and a short briefing on how to use scuba gear. The 3 of us get geared up. We walk from the beach into the water to the sunken shipwreck. My mind was racing through all the things that could go wrong. I looked at my sister to make sure she was ok. Tanya just dove in. I soon followed. I then recognize the only “sounds” I could hear was the chatter in my mind (Where is my sister? Am I going to drown? Am I breathing too fast?) Then at that moment something shifted and all I could hear and feel was a peaceful silence. I was able to soak up everything in and it ended up being one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
I wish I could say this story had a perfect ending. I will say that it does have a happy ending and that is perfect enough for me. During the dive, as the chatter silenced in my mind, I noticed the swaying of the ocean water. I started to feel seasick and by the time we got to the surface. I wasn’t feeling well. Right at that moment, I threw up. The fishes’ natural reaction was to start eating the “food” around me. I started screaming as the fish started swimming aggressively all around me. Through my nausea, I could hear Tanya and my sister’s laughter in the background but their comforting words that I was alright made me feel safe. I just knew everything was going to be ok. They both swam over to save me from being eaten alive.
Several years later we still get a great laugh from my extremely embarrassing story but the lessons I learned were way more valuable:
1. Stop making excuses: The only person/thing/situation ever holding you back is YOU. You can keep allowing yourself to make excuses or you can decide to just accept the situation and get out of your comfort zone. Remember the only thing stopping you is a thought.
2. Feel the support from others and yourself: By silencing the chatter I decided to support myself at that moment. I knew I was ok. It gave me faith to keep going and be present. Also surrounding yourself with people who inspire you, my sister and Tanya are some of the most amazing people I know. I knew when they swam through the “food” and the aggressive fish to save me, I was so blessed and lucky to have them in my life.
3. Be brave: People often think it has to be something huge to show bravery. Sometimes being brave is just allowing yourself to think of the excuses and not allowing that to stop you from experiencing something wonderful.
I did promise a happy ending and here it is. Several years ago I braved through the nausea to get my PADI scuba certification in El Nido, Philippines.
Now let me know what you think.
Is there anything you that scared you but you decided to do it anyway? What did you do to overcome the obstacle?