I almost drowned. Well, I jumped in to a pool. It was like drowning, in the sense that I was scared to jump in to said pool. Okay, let me tell the story from the top. I need to confess, I never graduated from swim lessons as a child. I was the oldest kid in the beginner level swim class. I was the kid that cried, at every, single class. My primary goal was to avoid the deep end, and above all else; I vowed to never climb the short ladder to the diving board. I achieved MY goals; I just never learned how to swim properly. Now that we have established my inability to swim; we can move forward to the present.
I recently spent the weekend with my family. My aunt and uncle have a beautiful pool nestled in their backyard. Naturally, the clan gathered under the newly constructed pergola to eat, swim, and spend quality time together. The children were confidently jumping off the diving board. I was surrounded by expert level swimmers, with the youngest being five.
My cousin approached me. She said, “Ang, I think it’s time you jumped in the pool.” Quickly, I responded with a confident, NO! Then kids started to challenge me. They shouted from the deep end of the pool, “Come on, if a kindergartener can jump in, then so can you.” Kids! They always know how to bring you back to realty. After being taunted by a handful of school aged children, I naturally, found myself standing at the edge of the pool.
It has been a long time since I felt debilitating fear creep in to my bones. Standing at the edge of the pool, peering into the deep blue abyss, scared me. The rescue team assembled within the pool…aka, the family. I crept closer to the edge. The fear once again took control and I backed away. I then began to deflect my fear and lovingly placed in on my husband. My husband has the same fear of water. Unlike myself, my husband’s fear stemmed from a near drowning experience he had in Kerala, India. He heroically stood up and jumped in. Dang, him! Now, I had to do it.
Here is the thing. I wish, I could tell you that I look directly in the face of fear and jumped in. I did not. Actually, I wavered at the edge for several minutes. Then a force behind me said, “sorry, Ang” and pushed me in the water. Yes, my cousin loving pushed me in to the water. The best part is I survived.
Many of us continue to hear the taunting reminder of facing your fears and do it. However, what I learned from this experience is that a gentle push toward that fearful place is still an act of moving forward. Here’s the real deal… I was still scared of the water, despite this experience. I did not return to the same edge with newfound courage to jump in on my own. I gracefully, coughed up some water and then returned to lounging on my side of the pool.
Courage often manifests in the presence of one’s fear. The point of facing your fears is to find a small place within your being that pushes you a little closer to the edge of that fear. I call it vulnerability. The gentle place of humility within us that beckons us to a deeper level of understanding and insight. How do we get to that place in the face of our fears? You can jump in. Or, you can allow the love and support of your people to push you in. It really doesn’t matter the path you take. The key is allowing your vulnerability to shine within that fearful place. Next time, a loved offers to push you in the water; let them push you in. This may be a your next big step in embracing your fear.