...they're not BIG enough. Recently, I faced my fear of snorkeling for the second time....
My first snorkeling experience was frightening. I grew up near the ocean, I can swim and I love the water. I have a healthy respect for the power of the ocean. Therefore, I did not expect the panic attack, 5 years ago, when I attempted to snorkel in Cozumel, Mexico. I made three attempts that day and finally gave into my fear and panic, sitting on the beach recovering with an adult beverage mid-morning! I was scared.
When I returned to Mexico this year, I was determined to try again. This time, I was part of a guided tour (last time it was DIY) and thought that would help me. I could feel the panic rise as I was handed my snorkeling gear for our first stop, a cenote (underground river/cave). I listened to the instructions, hanging on every word. As I got into the water, I was panic stricken. It simply doesn't make sense to me to put my face in the water and breathe!
Luckily, one of my friends gave me good advice. "Relax and breathe like you are sitting in meditation; slowly breathe in and out". It took a minute but I was able to calm down, trust the equipment and breathe. Then it became fun. I was paddling around the cave looking at the rock formations and fish. Cool. I was ready for the ocean and the sea turtles!
As we traveled from the cenote to the ocean, I started running through things that I was currently doing that scare me (in a good way). I am involved in a couple of business training programs that are pushing me outside of my comfort zone, challenging my ideas and methods. I am attending new types of networking events. I am taking action. One of my mentors recently said to me: Action trumps fear.
As we arrived on the beach and prepared to enter the ocean, we were given flippers. I hate those damn things. My anxiety started. As we put on our gear and prepared to walk into the ocean, my heart started racing. My self-talk was that I was going to be OK, I was strong and up to the challenge. If I can walk into a room full of strangers and introduce myself and my business, then I can snorkel! I tried to envision how great I would feel when I succeeded. I could do this!
Well, I wasn't successful and it was OK. I made it about 3 minutes into the ocean, couldn't keep up with the group, panicked and was escorted back to the beach. I wish there was a picture of me ripping the flippers off my feet. I blame them for slowing me down and throwing me off track. The flippers are an easy target.
As I sat on the beautiful beach with the others from our group that did not snorkel, I was full of emotions: happy those flippers were off my feet, happy I was on land and not in the water, disappointed I did not see the sea turtles and proud because I had tried. I faced my fear, though not 100% successful, I learned a few things and will try again.
What are your dreams? Do they scare you? If they don't, they are not big enough. We need to dream big and sometimes bigger in order to grow and thrive. I continue to dream big dreams for myself and most days I am scared silly. The good kind of scared. The scared that makes you grow. The good news is that you don't need to achieve your dreams in one step, one day or even one year. You just have to take consistent small steps that lead to bigger steps that lead to your dream.
So I didn't see the sea turtles on this vacation. But I will try to snorkel again and someday I will be successful and experience all of the beauty that exists under water.
Dream big my friends, and if need be, dream bigger!
Debbie Moulton is the owner of Real Life Spark, a coaching practice dedicated to Igniting the Next Generation of YOU!™