ME ON MONDAY (OVERCOMING FEAR) 20 Aug 2012
While I was away on vacation I did something that I've been pretty scared to do: Snorkel in open water. When I was younger I never really had a problem with snorkeling. I did it in Hawaii, the Caribbean, and I even swam (for two minutes) with Caribbean reef sharks at a wall in the Bahamas post-college.
I've always been a swmmer and I love the water, but as I've grown older I've become really afraid of swimming and snorkeling in the sea - Especially when I can't see the bottom. It gives me the heebie-jeebies. I kinda have a crazy, irrational fascination/galeophobia (fear of sharks). It's like, I'm scared to death of them, but I really would love to come face-to-face with one.
For eight days, everyone on the boat was telling me that I wouldn't be so lucky to see one and if we did run into a shark, it would be a privilege. So on our last day, I decided I was going to go for it. I was going snorkeling and I was not going to jump into the water in my gear and then freak out and get back in the boat after five minutes.
On the 8th and final day, we sailed into Maho Bay, St. John, hooked onto a mooring a good way away from the shore and everyone (including me) jumped into the water. I put my mask into the water and could see nothing but rays of light shining through the water column. I couldn't see the bottom, so I immediately screamed, "I don't like this" two times, and quickly got back onto the boat. I was dissappointed with myself, but it just seemed a little too "skarky" for me. I told everyone that I wanted to dinghy over to the rocks instead of swim. A few people went ahead and swam to the reef, and we followed by boat.
We get to the reef, we jump in, and immediately see a ton of sea life. The reef was really alive and we were swimming through a million bait fish, schools of tuna were racing by, a few 4-5 ft. Tarpon (my favorite fish!), came out of nowhere, and birds were diving all around us. We saw lion fish, needle fish, Sargent Majors...you name it, we saw it.
We snorkled up to the shore of an eco-resort, chilled in the sand and talked about what we saw and then decided to head back to the boat because it started to rain. I saw the tuna zipping by us again and it seemed like they were swimming SO fast. And then the tarpon were reacting the same way. Were they running from something? My anxiety really started to get the best of me and then BAM! My uncle screamed, "Shark!!!" and there we were face to face with a 5-6 foot lemon shark.
Now, I know that lemons aren't known to be aggressive towards humans, but I've never felt so SCARED in my life. I jumped onto poor Jordan's back in a piggyback position and almost drowned him. Needless to say, I and everyone else (including the shark) scattered. You could really feel the nervous energy in the water. It was scary and it was amazing all at once. Two seconds later we were swimming next to a gargantuan sea turtle and then we decided that we saw enough and wouldn't swim back to the boat, so we whistled to our friend Adam to come pick us up in the dinghy.
After I got back on the boat I realized that I beat my fear and I wanted to get back in the water. I had SO much fun. It's crazy how being scared of something can really hold you back. If you don't conquer your fears they can really get the best of you and cause you to miss out on a lot in life and rob you of time. I highly recommend taking action against your fears. It really breeds confidence and courage, and does great things for your self-esteem. Are any of you petrified of something? Do any of you have irrational fears? I'd love to hear if any of you have taken action and beat them or if they are holding you back!
Image of a very nervous Lauren Boggi Goldenberg & Laurie Leas Goldenberg on Day 3 at The Baths, Virgin Gorda, BVI's.