For my ‘significant’ birthdays – first my 50th and most recently my 60th – I have chosen to challenge myself and do something that is ‘cool’ but also challenges my fears. For my 50th I chose a tandem skydive – as I am scared of heights – and jumped out of a plane strapped to an instructor. At first I closed my eyes, but realised I was missing most of the experience! Once I did that, while it was still scary, it was an amazing experience.
Fast forward to my 60th. I chose to swim with dolphins in Akaroa. I have swum in deep water once before, but the waters were calm and in Rarotonga. This experience was to prove to be ‘cool’ but one of the most terrifying I have ever experienced. When I first jumped in I went under a bit as the waves slapped around me. I pushed away from the boat and was able to settle my nerves – a bit – and carry on. Unfortunately, the dolphins kept their distance and also unfortunately, I found it hard to stay upright and every passing wave seemed to delight in slapping me full in the face, making me gasp for air. I also found myself flipped onto my front and panicking because I was scared of being face down in the water. I panicked and called out to my husband who helped me right myself. Soon after we got back in the boat.
We moved off and found another pod of dolphins. Knowing I would probably never find the courage to do this again, my husband and I went back in. This time, fortunately, I got to see dolphins a bit closer, but once again I had trouble staying upright and yes, I panicked and had to be righted by my husband.
So, the question is twofold.
- Am I glad I did it? The answer is a definite yes!
- Would I do it again? Hello no! It was terrifying!
But, my philosophy is this. We can all benefit from doing things that challenge us and scare us. With this diagnosis for me there is always a certain amount of fear present about what I can and can’t do, what I should or shouldn’t do and what the future holds. For some of that there is little I can control, but I choose to face my fears and to acknowledge them and with that maybe I can feel more in control.
So, I will continue to challenge myself and do things that are outside my comfort zone. Who knows what terrifying challenge I shall choose for my 70th! It may not be deep water based though, so swimming with sharks definitely isn’t in the mix!