A fear you’ve conquered and how you did it

I used to have this strange fear of swimming in deep water. I think it was thanks to my wild imagination. When I was in elementary school and in swimming lessons I would imagine there were big fish swimming at the deep end of the pool. Now, come to think of it, I might have been told that there were big fish swimming at the deep end to keep me from going over there. I’m sure we’ve all been told white lies for our safety, especially as children. Anyway, from that time I had this fear that if I swam over deep water, fish would come up and eat me.

As I got older I started doing many kinds of water sports and really loved water-skiing every summer at a lake my family would go camping at. For water-skiing, I would start out in shallow water, which was fine, but if I ever fell, after the boat had pulled me away from the shore, I would panic. I’d imagine that there were actually fish waiting to take a bite out of my toes or that one would swim past my legs and I’d feel them. It was really silly but I think for me it was about not being able to see through the murky lake water so it was a fear of the unknown.

When I was in university, I took a trip to the Philippines to volunteer for a school project that my school was raising funds for. For eight days we were put to work but on the last day of the trip we took a boat out into the ocean to an area with tons of fish and choral. We were supposed to go snorkeling, but I wasn’t sure I could actually do it. Once we arrived at the snorkeling spot I looked into the deep water and from above it looked dark and dull. Just when I had made up my mind that I would be happy to simply suntan on the boat my friends noticed and started convincing me to change my mind. They said it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and that I’d regret it if I didn’t jump in.

Somehow or other they convinced me to put on some flippers, goggles and a snorkel. I decided to jump in on the sunlit side of the boat where I didn’t see any fish. I got into the water and was fine swimming around with my head above the surface of the water. Then the boat driver decided that it was time to throw a bunch of pieces of bread into the ocean to attract more fish for us. Within seconds I was surrounded by hundreds of fish. I really started having an anxiety attack. My friends just laughed at me as I pleaded to get back into the boat. Once again, they told me I’d regret it, so I found the determination to stick it out.

Little by little, I would put my face down into the water and for longer amounts of time before I’d pull it back up. I think it was after about 45 minutes or so I completely got used to it and then started enjoying what I was seeing. As you probably know, it’s a whole other world under the sea. I loved all the bright colors of fish and plants. I would choose one fish and then follow it around wherever it went. I ended up being the last person to get back in the boat as I didn’t want to leave.

Nowadays, snorkeling is one of my favorite things to do while on holiday. If I hadn’t gotten over my fear I would never have been to so many different places like Hawaii, Taiwan or Thailand. It was well worth that short period of panic, and I’m so glad I had friends that encouraged me to do it.



white lie (n) – a lie told in order to be polite or to stop someone from being upset
murky (adj.) – dark, dirty or difficult to see through
tons (n) – an extremely large amount
somehow or other (phr.) – in a way that you do not know or understand
stick something out (idiom) – to continue to do something to its end