For years I’d fantasised that I would one day swim like a mermaid. Like most I had received swimming lessons at school but I had achieved nothing from them, aside from fear. I can still recall that awful smell of chlorine and the deepness of the pool. My fingers had a permanent grip on the pool edge. The one time I attempted to swim without aid I almost drowned. Panic set in and my dream of swimming like a mermaid remained just that – a dream. I sent that dream into a slumber in the far corner of my mind.
Many years later I went travelling for the first time. Hitting the beach was on the top of my priority list. I can still recall how soft the golden sand felt on my bare feet. The sounds of the waves compelled me forward. Before I knew it I was stood in the sea. I wanted to go further in but knowing that I was unable to swim I repressed my desire. The following day we returned to the beach. Everyone else had decided to go snorkelling and I accompanied them on the glass-bottom boat. I looked down and shoals of clown-fish were swimming past a sea turtle. Everyone got off the boat to snorkel whilst I stayed back. My heart shattered and I was overcome with sadness at the fact that I couldn’t join them. When they came back onto the boat, they were all in awe of the sights they had seen deep in the sea. I vowed that day that the by the next beach holiday I would immerse myself into learning how to swim.
It wasn’t an easy task. The first swimming lesson consisted of me wearing a float in amongst a pool full of experienced swimmers. I felt so embarrassed and ashamed that I was nearly 30 years old and still unable to swim. I wanted to give up instantly but I reminded myself of all those feelings I had felt. How limited I felt looking at everyone else having a whale of a time in the sea. This really pushed me and motivated me to carry on. I religiously attended my weekly swimming lessons and within a year I had achieved my goal.
The next beach holiday was approaching and I was so excited. I would finally be able to join in with the water activities. Just like last time we had a snorkel trip booked and I couldn’t wait. We popped on our snorkel masks and climbed down the boat into the sea, I froze temporarily and told myself that I couldn’t swim. But my inner-self gave me a telling off! I hadn’t taken swimming lessons for a whole year to now give up this amazing opportunity. I threw those feelings of self-doubt into the deepest part of the ocean and I am beyond ecstatic that I did. The sights I saw whilst snorkelling were indescribable. I saw fish that were every colour of the rainbow. Some even swept their silky smooth skin along my hands. It was a moment I will forever cherish.
Fear, disappointment and discontentment were my teachers throughout this process. Without these teachers I wouldn’t have pushed myself. I wouldn’t have gone out of my comfort zone to challenge myself. Now, I know I can achieve anything I put my mind to. I’m thankful to my teachers but I’m even more thankful that I never have to face them again!