It’s You Can Do It Week here on FBG, so we thought it would be fun for each FBG to share a little something we overcame, conquered or faced — plus a haiku (or two). Hopefully our stories inspire you to try something new, face fears and, generally, just GO FOR IT!
The family and I recently headed to the Midwest for a little vacation. What, Kansas isn’t a typical vacation destination? It is when you’ve got family, a 3-year-old’s birthday to celebrate, Mexican food that you can’t get in New Jersey, Boulevard Wheat beer and a pool. But while I got a lot of the expected — family time and lots of salsa — I got something I didn’t expect when I overcame a life-long fear.
I’ve mentioned a number of times that I love a swimming pool. My brothers and I spent our entire summers as kids swimming in the pool at my grandma’s condo. It was almost always empty except for us, super deep so we could safely dive again and again and again, and long enough that swimming the entire length underwater was an excellent challenge. So I may not be much of a lap swimmer, but I love, love, love hanging out in the water. I’ve been dying to test out my mom’s new in-ground swimming pool since it got put in last year, so I knew I’d be doing a lot of swimming while we were there.
I’ve gone to the pool a number of times this summer with the kids, but when you’ve got two kids under 3, there isn’t a lot of time for selfish pool play. I typically go during the week when my husband’s at work, so that makes it an exhausting excursion by myself. But with family around to watch the kids? And my husband to share swimming responsibilities? You better believe I got some serious splash on. I swam some laps, but I mostly just played with my fish-like niece and nephew. I dove for dive sticks. I did hand-stands in the shallow end. I challenged myself to swim underwater as far as I could, proudly making it two lengths. I wore myself out just playing. It was a blast.
But my biggest accomplishment was overcoming that fear I mentioned. You see, I’ve never been afraid to dive off a diving board. I’m no stranger to Grandma-judged diving competitions. But I’ve never been able to overcome my fear of the front flip off the board. Never in my entire life of swimming have I had the guts to do it. So what do I do as a 32-year-old? I decide that it is now the time to do it. Genius. Egged on by my older brother whose motto off the diving board is “No weak pencils, only sick tricks,” I mustered up the courage to do the flip.
After a couple of false starts, I finally did it. Kind of. The first time I made a pretty obnoxious landing on my back, which was about as painful as you’d expect. But failing the first time made me braver, so I kept doing it, with a few more pretty painful splashes in the attempt. In about seven or so attempts that first day, I only really managed to sort of get all the way around once. I mostly just landed with the outside of my left thigh smacking the water. Ouch.
The next day, with a massive bruise on my thigh as motivation, I improved “immensely.” Sure, I’ll never be in the Olympics or anything, and I’ll probably need another week-long vacation to practice, but I was pretty proud of myself for overcoming the fear. And it felt so good the few times I hit that water with my feet. A perfect 10 to me, even if it didn’t look graceful to anyone else.
So now, for my bonus haiku…
Front flips off the board
Bruises ignored, try again
Success in a splash
Have you overcome any childhood fears? Are you a pro at flips off the diving board? —Erin