My four-year-old niece is learning to swim.
Riley loves the water, but she is also terrified of it. On the day of her first swim lesson, she got all gussied up in her bathing suit, bathing cap, and goggles. She looked at her reflection in the mirror and smiled. She was ready!
That smile quickly vanished when she approached the side of the pool and looked at her reflection in the water. It was all she could do to just dip her toes in that day.
Fast forward six weeks, and Riley swam – with her face in the water – four feet from the edge of the pool to her teacher’s arms yesterday. Every step of the process has been agonizing for her, but today she beamed with pride. With great effort and courage she is gaining the skill that will allow her to one day feel safe in the water.
I think we’ve all had moments when our anxiety rears up and threatens to get the better of us. It is what we do in those moments that makes a difference. Do we face our fear and persevere through it? Do we find a way to circumvent fear and forge another way forward? Do we turn away and urge ourselves to just breathe? (Sometimes simply breathing and surviving the moment is the courageous act.)
“But I can’t breathe under water.”
True – but what if you can adapt your way of being to accommodate that unfamiliar environment? What if you have the courage to try and you discover a whole new way of breathing, of moving, of being that allows you to become unafraid?
What if you learn to swim?