The tank rests heavily on my shoulders.
I am the last person to leave the boat. I am terrified.
Colourful fish welcome me to the Great Barrier Reef.
They’re a lot like people. Some are curious, others are scared. Some don’t even notice you at all.
I feel like I’m in Finding Nemo. My childhood dream is coming true.
The only problem is you can’t smile underwater. The air regulator falls off if you don’t bite it hard enough, and that makes it difficult to breathe…
Remember to breathe
My mouth cracks open and a pocket of water flushes down my throat. My lungs do their best to repair the damage. I curse my own excitement. I want to smile so bad it’s not even funny.
I begin to argue with myself.
“Get a grip, Olle. Remember to breathe!”
“But you’re underwater! You’re surfing the Great Barrier Reef, dude! This is so cool!”
I smile at nature’s beauty. More water falls through the open crack until my mouth finally decides to shut.
I start breathing again. Why do we always forget our most important anchor?
Know your equipment
I put the air regulator back on and take my first breath. It feels strange and unnatural.
My brain freaks out and sends strict orders throughout my body. He’s such a know-it-all. But in times of an emergency, every organ loves him. Except, maybe, the heart.
My lungs work hard to breathe with this thing. It’s a constant battle between the water and my lungs.
I probably should have checked out this equipment before jumping into the big old blue. Well, done, Olle. Truly, you’ve outdone yourself once again.
My Japanese diving instructor interrupts my thoughts. He has more than 3000 dives under his belt.
He reminds me of one of the main characters in Kung Fu Panda, but I can’t remember his name. Now is not a good time to ask. We’re diving deeper down…
The instructor grabs my arm and shuffles me gently in the direction of the rope. My body travels through the water. I reach the rope and cling on to it with my life. I am deceived by nature’s beauty, but I refuse to let go. I don’t know the equipment well enough to proceed.
I won’t go further down. It’s barely a meter.
You jump out, and you jump back in again
I’m the first person out of the water. To say I feel disappointed would be an understatement.
But the crew members don’t give up on me.
“Good on you for trying,” they tell me. “Most people never even jump in.”
They hint at the air tank. I get the message. And they’re right, of course. I need to get back in straight away. No questions asked.
I still have my snorkel equipment. It’s still a sunny day at the Great Barrier Reef. Without that heavy tank on my back, I can explore the hidden depths from above.
I take the tank off my shoulders and get a swimming noodle for support. I jump back into the ocean because that’s where I belong.
I am one of the last people to leave the water. I am too happy snorkelling, and exploring the sea. I’ve made a few fishy friends along the way.
I smile to myself. There are always other ways to get gutsy, if you put your mind to it.
You just gotta put on the swimsuit and dive in.
Are you ready, buddy?
Let’s dive in. Together.
Leave your gutsy thoughts in the comments.
This post is part of Jessica Lawlor’s “Readers Get Gutsy” series where bloggers are encouraged to share their personal stories about getting out of their comfort zones to live a more fulfilling life.