I remember not being able to lift myself out of the swimming pool as a child.
It sucked because everyone else seemed to be able to jump out of the water with such grace and ease and there was I, struggling like a whale in captivity.
But I was a quick learner - and to avoid any negative attention I stayed within reach of the stairs so I could exit without having to be ashamed of my inability to support my own weight. I lived in a mildly anxious state at all times and encouraged myself to plan for the easiest ways to blend in to the areas of life where I might be singled out. Living in fear of someone noticing my inabilities often kept me a step ahead. For that reason the shallow end and stairs were my secret weapon against standing out at the pool - assuming that people weren't looking at me in my swimming costume of course.
On a plus side, I could always tread water effortlessly due to my incredible buoyancy.
Although I love swimming now - it wasn't always a favourite. As a pre schooler I refused lessons. My mum would take me to our local swimming baths where I would attempt to learn. I would travel the shallow end with my arms dividing the water in front of me in big waves, hoping that no one would notice I was tall enough to walk and wasn't swimming at all.
Eventually it all clicked and when I finally got it, nothing could keep me out of the water. I started a badge program in elementary school but shortly after realised my athleticism did not match my enthusiasm and I refocused that energy into other things, like looking intimidating in the playground so no one could pick on me for being fat. I spent many happy Saturday afternoons swimming with my Dad and enjoying it as a recreational activity. He always bought me food afterwards, so I was happy.
Don't mention 'P' and swimming in the same sentence
Swimming lost it's allure for a while and I got so fed up with it that I started telling my swim instructor that I was on my period. Every week. Week in and week out I would slip on the handy blue shoe protectors and signal that my name required a letter "P" in the register. It was after 4 weeks of writing P next to my name he finally suggested I go to the school nurse and talk about my situation. Periods weren't month long things - who knew?
The school nurse was quite concerned about my predicament. Naturally.. a 4 week period is a pretty big deal. I put her mind at ease almost instantly. I explained that I simply didn't feel like going swimming anymore, so I said I was on my period week after week because it was the only way I could avoid going in the pool. Can't blame a girl for not wanting to get her hair wet, can you?
I realised how lame I was being so I diligently set my alarm clock for 5:45 am and joined the swim team for early morning practise. I put in the effort and even got quite fast, but I still couldn't lift myself out of the pool.
With each year my body got bigger and bigger, but I never used that as an excuse to not go swimming. There were times when I felt insecure as my body wobbled about in the water - but I did not let it stop me. I even went on a first date at the river and I can tell you - nothing makes your heart sink faster than a locker key in the deep end than the suggestion of swimming as a first date. Still - I did it, and it went swimmingly.
I ain't no swim suit model and maybe I never will be or ever want to be - but time after time I would try and get out of the deep end without the stairs. Time and time again I would fail.
Then one evening at the Y.M.C.A during an epic adventure of me as a pirate/kraken/deep sea monster vs my boys on a pink water mat, I put my hands flat on the side of the pool and I lifted myself up out the water.
With my arms fully extended, I lifted my body up with no intention of getting out the pool. All these years later - finally strong enough.
"Hey! look what I can do now!" I shouted to my boys and they cheered for me as I held myself there for a few moments. Then listened to them scream as I went back to pretending I was a giant squid.
Sometimes, even when you have tried 100 times and you're ready to give up, 101 might be a success and you will only know if you keep trying!
Mother, creative strategist and health & happiness advocate. These are my personal ramblings..