I think part of me has always been afraid of my own shadow all my life.  I never ventured out, took chances, put myself out on a limb, or attempted anything scary or new for the longest time.  Not until my early 30s did I start.  What finally moved me was getting in the gym when I had gained way too much weight.   I started out in aerobics classes and always wore a huge, baggy t-shirt over my workout clothes!  Next, I added in the weight machines (intimidated by free weights back then).  The aerobics director at the gym talked me into free weights after a few months on the machines.  That was my first step.

She was looking for new instructors and I loved aerobics so much, I asked her about what was involved.  Know that I was always very shy and not much for putting myself in front of people!  Not so great for an aerobics instructor, huh?  Well, I was interested, so I took her prep class for AFAA primary instructor certification.  That was the start of a great relationship and my first venture out of my comfort zone!

I learned that I could face the things that I was afraid of and it wouldn’t necessarily kill me!  Things moved forward.  I became a personal trainer.  Later, I joined the community theatre and performed on stage.  Yes, me, acting and singing in front of people in a theater!  Yikes!  I loved it!

Now, to the most frightening part of this story.  I have an unequivocal fear of water.  I never really learned to swim properly as a child.  Circumstances were such that I injured myself shortly after starting swimming lessons as a child.  Before I could continue, we moved to New Hampshire and I was not enrolled in any classes.  In high school, a friend threw me in the deep end of the pool one day.  I panicked, of course, and sunk.  He had to dive in after me.  That did it.  It was enough to put total fear into me of the water.  After that, the closest I would come to the water was in a boat with a life vest on at all times.

Then, I met my husband.  He gave me the strength to face some of my lesser fears from the beginning of our relationship.  He has even gotten me into the water wearing a wetsuit!  I go out and paddle on the surface while he dives.  Underwater stuff, still not there yet!  However, I attempted one of my lifelong dreams, which, ironically, involves my biggest fear – water.  Surfing.  I’ve always wanted to do it, but don’t deal with being underwater well.  I panic still.  Yesterday, we went to the beach with his longboard atop our Mini Cooper.  The waves were nice, but small enough for me.  I got my first lesson and loved it!  I rode the waves on my stomach practicing lifting my upper body and balancing on the board, started learning to paddle so I could steer and catch the waves!  Yes, I tanked and, yes, I ended up underwater, but bobbed right back up!  Love my 7 mm wetsuit!  I can’t wait for my next lesson!  I DID IT!  I think I’m finally well on my way to getting over my fear of water!

I think I will always have a healthy deep respect for and fear it at some level.  Just knowing that it won’t paralyze me and that I can work with it, is quite an accomplishment!  This is the way I want to face all my doubts and fears from here on.  Whether it’s the water or fear of that first race, I WILL tackle it and I WILL survive it!

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