My body slowly sank below the waters surface. Pulled by the weights around my waist, I descended below sea level, with only one thought in my head. Oh gawd what’s Brad gotten me into.
Diving. It’s something the two of us have talked about doing from the moment we moved to Australia, almost 6 years ago. As a birthday gift, Brad signed me up to get my certification on my own in Tasmania. OF COURSE I was excited but I was also feeling anxious. If I’m going to be honest, deep waters have always kind of intimidated me. It’s a fear that I can push aside even if it still lingers below the surface (pun intended).
Tasmania however, was the last place I would’ve thought I’d learn to dive. I had more of a vision of being in tropical warm waters, near a coral reef, surrounded by a ridiculous amount of fish.
The water in Tasmania is cold, which means a 7mm wet suit is your go to option. It feels pretty heavy duty when you’ve got it on. Much like the little brother from A Christmas Story, all bundled up in his snow gear. From socks and boots to hoods and gloves. These wet suits did a pretty darn good job at keeping you warm. But for the love of god are they ever a challeng to pull all the way up! Especially when you need to take a pee break after already being in the water.
They say you never forget your first breath underwater and I have to agree. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting and I wasn’t comfortable. I kept wanting to spit out the regulator and take a natural, normal breath above the surface of the water like we humans are meant to do.
Heading out to open water for the first time, was one of my most memorable moments throughout the course. As I started descending with my group, it wasn’t long before I panicked and resurfaced. I can’t pinpoint exactly what made me go back up. Perhaps I wasn’t ready for that confining feeling. All that gear, wet suit pieces and hood and the sheer weight of the water. But as uncomfortable as I felt, I wasn’t ready to call it a day. So, at the surface I calmed myself with a few good deep breaths and began my descent for a second time. Slower, focusing on taking those slow, deep breaths.
I must admit in the beginning, I wasn’t really sure if diving was going to be for me. I didn’t take to diving like a fish. During my first open water dive, I also lost control of my buoyancy and sky rocketed to the top not thinking fast enough how to stop myself. The mask exercise was extremely unpleasant. And it took me extra pool time with my very patient instructor to get more comfortable with it. Reading the material vs applying things in the water is very different.
But by the time I got back out there on my last open water dive, I could really start to see what all the hubbub was about. I was finally able to take slower, deeper breaths which meant my tank was going to last longer. And the concepts of controlling my buoyancy really sank in. Besides, there are so many beautiful and intriguing things that lie beneath the surface and I was more than ready to see them.
Diving isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. You spend a lot of time in your own head and you need to be okay with that. You need to be good at controlling your own anxieties and not letting panic get the best of you.
But if you’re able to overcome the fears and anxieties that hold you back from the experience, it’s a pretty amazing thing. I’ll never forget my dive instructors stamp. An image of the world surrounded by the words “water 70% land 30%”. That feels like a pretty epic place to start exploring. Just remember, don’t forget to breath.