From Erin

Acting Like a Kid With the Bruises to Prove It


It was no cliff, but flipping off a diving board? Scary! Credit: Daniel Flower, Flickr

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


  1. says

    As a fellow Kansas expat who *also* moved to New Jersey several years ago, I can’t tell you how near and dear to my heart this post is. There’s the radness of practicing flips until your legs are bruised–which is AWESOME, and sounds so much fun, and is something I haven’t done since childhood, either–but on top of that, you threw in a shoutout to GOOD Mexican food and really, REALLY GOOD beer, both of which are indeed a pretty big challenge to find further east.

    Thanks for this one–totally made my day :)

  2. says

    I’ve recently been attempting to learn to handstand. Flipping over has earned me more than a few bruises, but thats just part of the fun of progress isn’t it

  3. says

    On Valentines Day 2007 I was in a serious car accident. A truck with a snow plow hit me on my driver’s side. The plow sliced into my leg, broke my left iliac wing, a broken rib which lacerated my spleen and a bruised bladder. I was listed as a fatality at the scene. When all was said and done, I did not die. Instead, I received 38 staples to reattach my muscles along my hip and I had to go through extensive therapy to learn to step again since I had sliced my nerve in seven places. It was a very long process and my pelvis still hurts. For a long time, I wasn’t sure I would be able to do a lot of working out but with Pilates I increased my range of motion and now I work out every day and I can even run again. Workouts are painful but it reminds me that I am alive and makes me thankful that I have my leg since there was some concern that I would lose it.

    When I feel down or in a lot of pain and defeated, I remind myself that every step is exercise and if I can’t run that day, I will walk and if I can’t walk, I will do an ab workout or something that is gentler in that side but I will still work out. I have learned to be a little bit more forgiving with myself.

  4. says

    Erin: uh, TOTALLY. I’m not NJ-based right now (doing one of those soul-searching, long-term traveling thangs), but that’s what the internet is for! What’s your Instagram or Twitter handle?

    Next time we’re in the same state, beer & Mexican food night?

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