In this post, I argued that you can only avoid your dreams for so long, before they find you. I also mentioned it has been a dream of mine for about twelve years to get scuba certified.
This past weekend, I crossed another one of those pesky dreams off my list and finally got certified.
I realize twelve years is a pretty specific number, so let me explain.
It seems to be a popular thing for people to say that you should live your life without regrets, but I have never been able to fully subscribe to that belief. I actually have quite a colorful list of regrets. They are not regrets that plague me throughout my life, or weigh heavily on my mind, but when pressed to think of any that I have, I have a few that always pop up.
The first one that usually comes up, is from twelve years ago. It was the summer of 2005, the summer between my senior year of high school and my first year of college. My oldest sister, Lauren, was living in Australia, and it was the perfect excuse for my mom to take me and my middle sister, Kate, on a three week trip to the other side of the world to visit her.
Lauren was living and working in a hostel there, and had a friend who was a dive instructor. She offered to get us set up with a class that would coincide with our trip. It would take 3 days in total, and at the end we would be open water certified scuba divers. The whole thing would be paid for.
The night before our course was set to start, Kate and I lay in bed discussing what was in store for the next three days. For whatever reason, we just didn’t want to do it. I remember having a feeling of dread in my stomach, imagining having to get up and spend the next three days going through the course. Something just didn’t feel right, and Kate felt the same way. After hours of going back and forth, it was settled.
We cancelled the dive class and notified Lauren and her friend that we wouldn’t be doing it.
Let me just reiterate this, in case you missed anything.
A free scuba certification at 17 years old. In the number-one place to scuba dive in the entire world. With certification dives happening in the actual ocean. To be followed by immediate future dives within the next three weeks alongside my sisters. IN AUSTRALIA.
My sister was mad at us for the better part of a year about our decision to cancel last minute. Two other people weren’t able to take the course, since we brought the class number down from four to two, four being the required number of students to run the class.
Between the age of 17 and 29, I went on dozens of domestic and international trips to prime scuba diving locations. Twelve years of missed underwater adventures, of unforgettable experiences that never happened.
These are not things that 17 year old Megan thought about, though.
If I could go back in time, I would go back to that day and not-so-gently tell my-then 17 year old self TO TAKE THE CLASS. Because if she doesn’t, she is going to have to pay hundreds of dollars, and take a precious weekend out of her very limited free time at 29, to do it herself. I would also tell her she won’t be doing her certification in the beautiful Australian ocean, but instead, stuffed in a tiny ten foot swimming pool with 7 other divers, in the middle of Chicago.
Like I said, I have regrets.
Flash forward to my 29 year old self last weekend. I am not proud to admit this, but I was dreading the weekend course. I was bitter about giving up an entire weekend to getting certified, when I could be sleeping instead. I internally complained about spending my time after work reading through the PADI course booklet, and watching a two-hour safety DVD.
When we approached Underwater Safaris at 9:30am on Saturday morning, I was mentally in flight mode, asking myself “How can I get out of this and just go home?”
Basically, I was 17 all over again, and found myself having the exact same reaction as I did all those years ago.
I tried really hard to understand why my gut reaction was to just call it quits once again, right before walking in the building. This was clearly something I wanted to do, and nobody was forcing me to go through with this. I put myself in this situation, so why was I wanting so desperately to get out of it?
I realized a couple of things that were holding me back:
- I was afraid of failing. I was afraid I would be the one stumbling over my equipment, not understanding anything, while my fellow classmates swam laps around me both in the pool and in the classroom.
- I was under the false expectation that I should always be enjoying myself it is truly something that I love doing, and that any negative feelings were indications that it wasn’t really something I wanted to do.
These both probably seem obvious to anyone else, but they weren’t to me. Especially #2. It was an important reminder to me that easy and fun is not always the quickest way to happiness. This is something I need to make an effort to take into consideration while on this search to build better Mondays.
It might be hard and uncomfortable, but it doesn’t mean it’s not right.
It is probably a surprise to no one, that I ended up completely loving the entire course. It doesn’t mean it all went perfectly, or that I discovered my secret talent in life is actually scuba diving.
In reality, I got the lowest score on the written exam. I got called out by the instructor for putting my wet suit on backwards, twice. I awkwardly stumbled through gear set-up, and it took me longer than I’d like to admit to understand how to read dive tables.
But, I also learned how to scuba dive. I took an actual breath underwater for the first time in my life. I successfully learned how to clear my mask underwater, and how to share oxygen with my husband if one of us runs low.
I left that weekend feeling more accomplished then I can remember feeling for a very long time. It felt so good to try something, and actually enjoy it. It was a much-needed reminder that I actually do like learning things, and can still find enjoyment out of things other than Netflix and an iced coffee.
It felt like a little break in the clouds from having my face glued to my work e-mail for hours on end, and a little nudge letting me know that I am going in the right direction with what I am trying to do here.
I also think I can finally forgive my 17 year old self. Maybe she knew something I didn’t.
She might have known that I would want to wait twelve years, so I could share this experience with my husband and my best friends, and follow it all up with one of the most delicious celebratory beers of my life.