That’s not a metaphor, I really am learning to swim as an adult. Most people give me the same funny look when I tell them. It seems there are two different reasons for the look. The first is from swimmers — it’s hard for them to imagine not being able to swim. The second is from non-swimmers. They can’t imagine doing it!
It’s hard to explain to people who haven’t experienced such a fear what it feels like. How just the thought of getting into a canoe with your girlfriends at probably the calmest little lake in the world sends you into a near panic attack. The tricks you use to keep the shower spray from inadvertently splashing you in the face. How standing in three feet of water telling your new instructor your “swimming story” almost makes you cry.
But what I realized last night at my first swim lesson, in the right situation, it really is the just the thought that kicks my ass. The actual swimming wasn’t so bad. In fact, by the end of my half hour lesson, I swam across the pool doing an actual stroke with my face in the water AND swam under water for the first time ever. Not only did I not drown or have a panic attack or even cry, but I started looking forward to the next lesson.
Suddenly I could see the possibilities. This summer when temperatures surge, I can jump in the pool without a second thought. On my next vacation, I can try snorkeling. But most of all, I won’t ever be sidelined by my fear again.
(Curious what happened on that vacation? Read Learning to Swim Redux.)