Swimming may not be a big deal to many of you out there, but for me, it happens to be something so big, that learning how to swim made its way to my bucket list a long while ago. I usually am that girl who sticks to the walls of the pool, or walks around in safe water levels, and sometimes shamelessly sneaks into the kids section. I finally decided to change this and tick learning swimming off my list, and took up swimming classes a while ago. Although I haven’t yet turned into a mermaid, I have successfully got rid of my fear of drowning, I don’t go to kids pool anymore, and I no longer stand like a statue or walk around like I do in a garden, when I’m in the pool. If someone asks me today if I can swim, my answer wouldn’t be the sheepish No I told people earlier, instead I’d proudly announce that I’m a struggling swimmer. So while I continue my lessons and learn how to swim, here are a few life lessons my struggle with swimming taught me.
1. Your comfort zone stops you in more ways than you know
I’ve always wanted to learn how to swim, and despite having opportunities to do so, I never really acted on it, making excuses to stick to the comfort zone of my routine. For years, I made excuses of not having enough time, potential skin problems that the pool water could give me, not having company, or just dismissing it to be something that wasn’t as important. Our comfort zones stop us in more ways than we know, without even letting us realize it. From something as small as swimming, to something as huge as changing our lifestyles, our comfort zone convinces our mind that the change we need, isn’t as important as we think. Unless we take the first step, we’ll never really know what lies ahead, will we?
2. It’s OK to learn something new, even if there’s no practical use of it
I don’t live by the sea, nor do I have a pool in close vicinity for me to have taken up swimming so seriously. However, I truly enjoy being able to learn swimming, like an excited child learning a new sport. Not everything you do, should carry a justification, especially if it’s something you enjoy. If people mock you for something silly that they think you’re wasting time on, remind yourself that it’s OK to enjoy the silly things, even if nobody gets it. Teaching yourself something new is a great way to convince your mind that there’s more to life than sticking to the ordinary.
3. There will always be reasons to quit. Don’t!
It’s hard to stick through something, when things don’t go your way, and as a struggling swimmer I can vouch for it. There will always be reasons, excuses rather, to stop something midway, but I’d rather prefer struggling for a while, and be proud of my long journey, than cut it short by quitting midway. Don’t give in to the excuses, instead tell your mind you’re not ready to give up, and it will listen to you instead of making you listen to its reasons.
4. Don’t compare your journey with somebody else’s. Everyone has different journeys.
While some learn how to swim like fishes in two weeks, some continue to learn in two months. People have different journeys, and it’s OK for them to. I’ve learned that comparing your journey to someone else’s does no justice to the hard work you put in. We’re all different, and so are our stories, learning styles, and paths. Appreciating someone else’s success, must not be an excuse to undermine your efforts. As long as you reach the destination, it doesn’t matter how long it takes.
5. People are kind. You will always find help
There have been times when other swimmers reached out to me proactively, to help me learn better. If you think you need help, go ahead and ask for it. Most definitely, you will find help. People are kind, and like the kind swimmers I come across, there will always be people out there in the world, who wouldn’t mind giving you a helping hand, no matter what the challenge at hand is.
6. To make a start, or finish what you start, have a deadline
I’ve had swimming in my list of things to learn, from a long time, but it’s only until I put a deadline next to it, that I took it up seriously. Having a deadline, a fixed date by when you’d like to achieve something, can be a great push to help you stick to your plans, not give in to excuses, and push yourself to make a start, or finish what you start.
7. It’s never too early or never too late. The right time, is Now!
I see children as young as three years old, and adults in their forties trying to learn how to swim. It’s never too early or never too late to begin anything. If you truly wish to do something, and you’re looking for the right time, the right time is now!
8. Your mind can be your best friend, or your biggest roadblock
“It’s all in your head” I hear these lines from the coaches a lot, with anyone struggling in water. The more easy you think it is, the easier it will get. So turns out, all I need to do is convince my head that I can do it, and I get to do it. Sometimes, the biggest hurdles and roadblocks, can be crossed by convincing ourselves that we have it in us, to overcome it. You can use your mind to convince yourself that you have it in you to go ahead, or let you believe that you can’t go any further. You train your own mind by choosing what you tell yourself you can or cannot do.
While I’m confident that I will eventually learn to be an effortless swimmer, I’m glad that there’s so much more I learned in the process. That’s the beauty of learning something new, especially learning something that you enjoy – no matter how big or how small, how seemingly significant or silly – the experience is bound to leave you with more than what you signed up for.