Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?
The university that I attend has a funky graduation requirement: most students need to pass a swim test. As a freshman, I thought that it was a little weird, but it didn’t bother me, until I heard about one thing:
I had to jump. Into the deep end of the pool.
Yes, I know, laugh, go ahead. It’s not the most terrifying thing in the world. I should know, I’ve grown up with water babies in my family. My mother back in the old days was a competitive swimmer. She swims effortlessly in the pool like some kinda mermaid ninja. One minute she’s swimming right next to me, and the next, she’s coming in from behind because she managed to make laps while I was puttering around in the water. Mom taught me the basics, but she never taught me how to jump into the deeper end of the pool.
I’m not proud of what I did. I actually enrolled in beginning Swim! For a YEAR! Just to avoid that awful test. Because I was afraid of that single aspect. And to tell you the truth, beginning Swim was really easy. All that fun practicing with my classmates who were busy struggling to just trust the water came to a quick end when I finally had to do it.
I was frozen. I remember distinctly that my feet were planted at the edge of the pool. The moment seemed insanely long. In the background I could hear my classmates, an interesting crew of undergraduates, graduate students and faculty/staff members, cheering me on. It wasn’t until the lifeguard actually told me to jump that I forced myself to unlock my petrified knees and take a leap.
After I plunked into the water, it honestly wasn’t so bad. But the real funny part is- I failed my first try! I failed because I started hacking up water mid-lap and I had to grab onto the pool ledge- which disqualified me. To be honest, leaping into water was THE most paralyzing, adrenaline-inducing, heart-pounding thing I had to do, because my fear was almost instinctual. My body at that very moment was resistant to rationality- it was genuinely scared and doing it’s best to keep me from potentially drowning. But that fear was monkey-mind fear. And I’m glad that now as a senior, I can say I have all the credentials INCLUDING a swim test to graduate. 😉