Swimming is a sea turtle’s natural instinct. It is not that hard for me. The difficult part is feeling like there is nothing I can hold on to, and not knowing where the current will lead me. Back when I used to swim 5000-yard practice sets, there was not much to think about. But when I look back on all those practices that felt so miserable, I find that there was true treasure I had discovered in the water – a determination and self-knowledge that I will never get elsewhere. I was trying to find sports teams to join for just a few months, when I decided to try out for my high school swimming team. I thought I would probably leave after I got bored. I ended up swimming my whole high school career.
When I first arrived at the pool, the two coaches told me to jump straight into the water. Of course, I had imagined there would be some kind of warm-up before. The eager stares of my two coaches made me burn with shyness, anxiety and fear. I wanted to turn around and pretend I had never been there. I was hesitant because I did not know the depth of the water, and because I was worried about how my teammates would react when they found out that I didn’t even know how to start a race. Just thinking about jumping into the cold water made me feel like I was in a horror movie. There was no other option, however, and either way it could have turned into an embarrassing moment.
I took a deep breath, and I found myself flying straight into the freezing pool. Nobody ever told me how that first dive turned out. But while I was in the water, I felt sunbeams gliding over my skin and disappearing after a split second. I stopped breathing, and my body tensed. I frantically paddled toward the finish line with the ripples from the water splashing around me.
I learned a lot about myself that day. Anxiety can be turned into a positive energy. The only thing I had needed was that firm determination. There are thousands of things that can happen in the water, but I embraced the wisdom of the sea turtle – swimming toward a goal while going against the current. Joining any kind of group can be hard. The feeling of being left out and the feeling that you are not good enough may always affect you. But as soon as you jump into the water, you’ve already begun a journey toward a new destination. It is the start of a wonderful exploration. It’s crucial to remember to not let your fear hold you back, because out in the vast ocean, there are always things to learn.
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