I’m not gonna lie: I was scared.
Scuba diving was never a bucket list item. I just knew I would be intimidated by the vastness of the ocean; I would be afraid of feeling alone; and let’s be real: I don’t like fish.
I found myself in Mexico with the opportunity to try it. As it often goes, my FOMO (fear of missing out) on a bonding experience with my BFF Danielle was greater than that fear. I signed up. Pool training in the morning, 2 dives in the Caribbean waters off the Quintana Roo shores in the afternoon.
For background, I would categorize myself as pretty comfortable in the water. I’ve been swimming since my early Canada days where Mom would trek my sister and I to the indoor pool in Saint-Lambert in the middle of winter to give us the gift of water safety (merci Maman). I picked swimming back up as a fitness activity in the last decade. I learned not to go out too fast at my first adult swimming event; I learned how to handle the difference between looking at the black line at the bottom of the pool and the murky waters of a Virginia lake at my first Olympic distance triathlon; and I learned how to overcome straight up panic at Ironman. Breathe.
Wednesday morning, everything felt right, especially my connection with our dive master, Flor. A beautiful young Argentinian woman, now immigrated to Mexico, following her dream, living her passion for diving every single day for the last 8 years. Her love for diving is palpable and inspiring. She switched on her professional spice within 5 or 7 minutes of arriving at our briefing place. For ninety minutes, she educated us on breath, equalizing, gear, safety, what to expect, all the things: we left no questions unanswered, no stone unturned. In the pool, the moment our eyes met under water, I knew I was in the best hands I could possibly be. More than two and a half hours later, I was ok, satisfied with what we accomplished the pool. I felt prepared. Breathe.
Here is the situation: nothing could have prepared me for the theater production that is going out for the actual dive. From walking on the sand to get to the boat to falling backwards into the ocean, everything is a carefully crafted scene. Instructors and divers of all different experience levels dance around pounds of equipment, eagerly anticipating the moment they reach the bottom of the ocean.
Flor: “Girls, gear on”. Me: “Shit, this is happening!”. Breathe.
I closed my eyes, held on to my mask and succumbed to gravity. The warm ocean was a welcomed contrast to the pool’s frigid water. I looked up at the horizon and smiled. Then, it was time to put my head in the water. Breathe.
Anxiety overcame me the minute I started to go down and saw the sea’s surface. Suddenly, what was real cute in the pool was completely terrifying. Breathe.
I started my descent and quickly lost control of the voices inside my head. No matter how much I tried, I could not conquer this one thought:
“If something happens, I don’t have an out.” Breathe.
I looked into Flor’s eyes and signaled I was going up. In that moment, I remembered that support and encouragement can exist without words. I was ok. Breathe.
My diving experience would continue from the boat for the rest of the afternoon. The warm sun on my skin, the waves rocking our boat, hilarious attempts at communicating with captain Felipe and first mate Raul, observing diving’s out of water etiquette, hearing the stories from divers returning on board, all of it made for an amazing practice. I enjoyed every single moment and have absolutely no regrets.
In the end, I learned all over again that I am ok with just breathing.
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