It feels exhilarating the first time. With one hand on my mask and one hand on my waist, clunking around quite awkwardly in my flippers as I shuffle to the edge of the boat, I count to three and take a giant step into the water. My vision is consumed by blue as I fall deeper into the ocean. I inhale and the air enters my lungs with a calming hiss. I am breathing underwater.
Scuba diving is an experience not quite like any other. After earning my open water certification in Utila earlier this year, I got a few dives under my belt in Central America and learned some life lessons along the way.
1. It's okay to drop dead weight. Almost all scuba divers wear weight belts to help balance out buoyancy issues. If we're overloaded, we're told to drop weight to help bring us back to a position where we can float comfortably. That's applicable in real life too – sometimes it's necessary to drop the things that are bringing you down in order to focus on the true priorities that make a positive impact in your life.
2. Don't be in a rush. Rushing your diving ascent or descent is painful and dangerous as your body doesn't have enough time to adjust to the pressure. Similarly, constantly moving from A to B without taking a break to be present in the moment or reflect on the journey isn't good for anyone. Slow down! Take the time to be in tune with your body and have quiet moments with yourself. Think about what makes you happy and do it more often.
3. Just keep breathing. One of the most unsafe things you can do when beginning or ending your dive is to hold your breath. On my first afternoon diving I had a minor freak out underwater (a very small freak out unlike that time in Belize) when we were practicing our skills. I tried to clear water from my mask unsuccessfully. With my mask off my face and my eyes tightly closed, I was only 3 meters below but starting to panic. I wanted to ascend immediately until my instructor put her hand on my arm to remind me she was with me. I focused on the hiss of the regulator and drew in deep breaths. “I can still breathe, calm down. I can still breathe,” I told myself. No matter what is thrown your way, no matter how anxious or heartbroken or discouraged you may feel, just keep breathing. Life will continue. Just keep breathing because you're stronger than you know.
Have you learned any unexpected life lessons from trying new activities? Share with me in the comments below!