So, as a result of a mortal dread of being unnecessary drown to death just because I never learned how to swim, I decided to take the sports up. Despite some setbacks in the beginning, I managed to swim the small lapse of the gym pool with fewer struggles to breath and quieter gasps for air today.
The thing is that swimming has taught me, no, more reminded me to leap out of my comfort zone again, literally. I had been very comfortable just wadding my clumsy hands and unsure feet in the shallow parts of pools before, but this learning experience has pushed me to go out, and actually, literally, lose my ground (more like pool tiles) for once in a very long time.
The first time I tried to float at the deeper part of the pool with no small amount of encouragement from a friend, I literally freaked out and yelled for help because I was sure I was going to be drown right then and there. (And I kinda did. Thanks god the pool’s edge was near enough).
After a few sessions of learning how to do flutter kicks, and throwing my arms around methodically, I finally gathered up the courage to swim across the pool again this morning. A few failed attempts later, a break was taken because my lungs were burning, my mouth, like a Magikap’s, was soundlessly screaming for air.
I knew these failures were partly due to the fact that I’d expected to drawn, to make my lungs burned, and mouth agape. In a sense, I expected failure, and fear gripped the handle of my brain; images from the past and newly created ones combined to horrify me, showing me snapshots of my dead body floating around, forever unconscious to the wonders left in the world. When you have been almost drawn to death once in your childhood, you kind of have a readily-prepared store of images and horrified feelings should you find yourself in the same situation again, and boy, were those horrid. These sensations overwhelmed me. Forget about the flutter kicks, and arms swinging, you need to struggle for your life right now, gurl! Ironically enough, setting into panic mode was what made me actually lose balance, and got chocked for the most part.
I knew, then, that my brain was playing a trick on me, and I have this habit of tricking it right back.
First, I tested it by going into the deeper part of the pool, and mentally telling myself it was the shallow part, and of course, I made it to the end. Hah, take that, brain!
Later on, I had to visibly try to relax my body by having a deep conscious breath, and literally mumbled, “don’t freak out” to myself over and over when I tried to make my way across the pool. Sometimes, it worked; other times, it didn’t. I know there must be a lot more practice, but I also know those practices are not to be done just on the body, but on the psyche as well.
This incident has led to me to question that if part of the reason I was so slow to take up swimming, and is struggling so hard was my fear of drowning due to a past unfavorable experience, then what about other aspects of my life? What else am I restricting myself from doing just because of the fear of pain, of failure, of embarrassment? What else am I failing because I expect myself to fail?
I guess the point of this blog is to to show you that the cliché can-do attitude is surely cliché, but then again, one may need constant reminder to avoid this self-fulfilling prophecy traps, and to always be willing to face one’s fears, even if that reminder comes in the form of chlorine water splashing against one’s gaping mouth.