I've talked about that, right?
Did I tell you that in a million years I was never going to get certified to scuba dive? Because sharks are everywhere. And piranha. And also, dead bodies (I watched too many scary movies and read too many Stephen King books as a kid).
But I love the water. And I'm so obsessed with sea creatures and coral reefs.
I read this thing about this aquarium in Georgia where you can swim with whale sharks, and I was like "THAT...would be the coolest thing ever." And then I read the part where, for the best experience, you should be scuba certified. And I was like,"THAT...sucks. I'm not gonna do that."
But the more I thought about, the more I wanted to do it. And I KNEW my husband would love it. And it was a total surprise to me, but you can actually get certified to scuba dive right here in the midwest.
So we signed up for the course.
I'm going to skip over all of the learning stuff and the exercises and just tell you that the first time I submerged completely in all of the scuba gear...IN A SWIMMING POOL...I freaked out.
I came right out of the water and was all sorts of Nope. No. Nuh uh. No. Absolutely not.
It took a good ten minutes to calm down enough to go back under.. But - once I was under, it was actually really cool.
Swimming pools have clear water. And walls. And aren't terribly deep. You can see the end. You can see the beginning. You can see what's coming.
Swimming pools are NOT the nothing.
But quarries are! And that's where we went for the next part of our class. Our group went to the quarry and we all swam out to the middle, where there was a bright orange buoy. And we all grabbed this rope and lowered ourselves down...about 12 feet...to this underwater platform where we started the next part of our training.
I had a panic attack.
And the thing about scuba diving is, when you're in the water, you can't just shoot up out of the water. You have to rise slowly. So I'm freaking out and just trying to get to the surface but also trying to remember all of the rules so that I don't die but also freaking out and everyone is looking at me because I'm screwing up the class for everyone else and I'm pretty much the worst and DEAR GOD JUST GET ME TO THE SURFACE.
My husband doesn't miss many opportunities to tease me...but he's also really awesome. He loved everything about learning to scuba dive so much and I know I was totally messing up his good time, but he was completely patient with me.
Eventually, I went below the surface again.
And finally, despite multiple freak outs, I got scuba certified.
The thing is - I was scared the whole time. And I'm still scared. I'm quite sure that the next time we go into the water, I'm going to have a really hard time. At least...until we get to the part where I'm face to face with a school of fish. And they're swimming around and some of them come right up and look you in the eye because you're a curious looking creature in their space...and then they swim off and so you swim off as well and it's so peaceful and amazing and it's kind of like flying and...the fear is worth it.
I was thinking about scuba diving this week because I posted two things that really freaked me out. I posted about the worst thing that I had ever done. And I posted a video of myself, where I was super raw and emotional.
And both times I posted, I had a running tally in my head of the people who I knew, should they see either of these things, would mock them. And this isn't even an imaginary fear. Because of everything that happened last year, I'm only too aware that people like to say bad things about me. And while I would love to say I don't care...I can't. I'm better at handling it, but of course I don't want to have people sitting around and making fun of me. I mean...gross.
So I was terrified to post those things. It's not easy for me to write about some of the things I write about. Or post a video where I just cry and my nose is running and I'm sure my teeth are just too big and the whole time I'm thinking "don't look like a horse, don't look like a horse, don't look like a horse."
I have a really hard time sharing some of this stuff, for a variety of reasons.
But it's SO much easier than going out into the world after I post those things, knowing that people have seen them. Knowing that they have read about the worst parts about me and seen my insecurities and my pain and my too big teeth and ...sometimes I can't even leave the house for a couple of days after I post something.
And then, because you are amazing, you tell me that I'm brave.
And I'm like...no. You guys...I am so freaked out right now. I can't even leave my house. Like - I'm still in my pajamas. I won't even put on real clothes.
And you guys are like..."thank you for being brave."
And I'm so thrown off by that, because I don't feel brave.
And then you tell me again...thank you for being brave. You tell me, "I saw this and I finally called a therapist." Or "I finally talked to someone about their depression." Or "I feel less alone." Or "me too."
And I'm like...oh. Wow. Because that matters. And so I keep going. And I'm freaked out every time. And I always feel scared. And I wanted you to know that if what I do is brave, then you shouldn't discount your own bravery just because it might not feel like bravery. Or at least what we think bravery should feel like. If this is brave, then I think bravery feels like fear. And it can be really uncomfortable.
Sometimes, getting out of bed and putting on real clothes is brave. Or waving at a stranger. Or asking someone if they're feeling suicidal. Or telling someone that they hurt you. Or strongly disagreeing with someone you love. Or quitting your job. Or leaving a relationship. Or saying no. Or making waves. Or being honest about who you are. Or being a parent (how do you guys even DO that?)
And we don't call it bravery because it feels like fear.
So I want you to know that if I'm brave, you're brave, too. And I hope that you can recognize it in yourself and appreciate all of the hard things that you do every single day. All of the things that you don't want to do but that you keep doing, because you know that beyond the fear and exhaustion and doubt lies something that's far more important.
I posted this video the other day because I think that sharing this story should be bigger than my fear. And I want you to know that I hate that it's out there. And that I hate the way that I look. And I'm scared of strangers on the internet judging me. And everything about it feels gross gross gross.
Until someone sees it and it prompts them to open up. To seek help. To talk about it. To feel less alone.
And then it feels like scuba diving. Like floating in a school of fish, in this amazing world that you didn't know that you could be a part of, surrounded by the peacefulness of water, knowing that the fear was worth it. Bravery is fear, you guys. And we're all so much braver than we ever think we are.