I almost drowned in Haiti.
Ok, maybe that was bit of an exaggeration. Here's a more accurate recount of what happened:
I took off swimming towards the shore of an incredibly deep natural pool and upon realizing that I had been swimming in the wrong direction and that I hadn't progressed nearly as much as I had estimated, I panicked. (Which is very Alicia-like, but that's another blog post). And, of course, by 'panicked' I mean I shrieked dramatically attracting the attention of at least 100 or so onlookers and bathers, including my boyfriend who was about strip down to his skivvies to rescue me. Swooon.
Ok, so where was I going with this? Yes, I almost drowned. Honest! Ok, let's start at the beginning.
I've never been the most self-assured person. Not naturally, anyway. Despite how calm, cool and collected I might appear (or maybe no one thinks I'm calm, cool and collected), there is a ALWAYS a constant stream of inner dialogue that sounds something like this:
Me: You should really start a blog. You love to write and people seem to enjoy your writing.
Me: That's completely pointless. There are already a gazillion blogs out there, there's no need for yet another one. And of course your friends will tell you your writing is good.
Me: But I really think I have a knack for engaging people through writing.
Me: I don't know if your writing is that good. What if no one reads it?
And that constant mental back and forth applies to pretty much all aspects of my life. I am CONSTANTLY questioning myself. Constantly worrying if I can. Constantly over-analyzing and scrutinizing my capacity to get from Point A to Point B. And let me tell you, it is pretty darn exhausting. Not only is it exhausting, it has been a real hindrance in doing all the things I really want to do because...well, I'm always busy worrying, "What if I can't?"
So on that particular day in Haiti, I was hesitant about making the swim. Quite honestly, I didn't think I could. Not that it was a long swim or anything, I just didn't think I could make it. And I'd never swam in water that deep before (I can't tread). And for about 10 minutes my thoughts alternated in rapid succession between "You can do this! Just jump!!" and "Jump and you'll drown".
And then I jumped. Off I went like Michael Phelps in an Olympic final. I started off with a strong breaststroke but I quickly turned over as my specialty is really the backstroke. Of course, I use the word 'specialty' verrrry loosely - think 'hoola-hoop-for-a-belt' loose. Things were going great, I was enjoying the water and the sun on my face. All I had to do was keep swimming and I'd be fine.
And when I thought I had neared the shore and realized I veered off course AND that my feet couldn't touch the ground...it was sheer panic and terror. I mean, it took only about a minute for me to get a grip of myself but in that minute I feel like I ran the gamut of mental processes.
But I vividly remember quieting my thoughts and telling myself, "Calm down. Trust yourself, you got this".
Now in retrospect, I know that I probably wouldn't have drowned as there was so many people around and I made enough of a commotion to send a sloth into action - several people quickly swam to my aid before Julien could jump in. But in those seconds where I felt like I needed to save myself, I realized that.. I could. So while I'm happy to recount anecdotally about 'that time I almost drowned', I do feel like I really became aware of the value of trusting myself. The value of not getting in my own way and the value of giving myself credit. Accepting that it's ok to be afraid and unsure but ultimately, no one will ever know me better than I know me so I ought to be able to rely on myself. Not only, but first.
This isn't about throwing caution to the wind and letting the chips fall where they may. This is about fostering and nurturing a relationship with oneself that will breed that self-assuredness so that when the decision to jump presents itself, you'll do what feels right. And you'll trust that you'll be alright.
So to all my fellow self-doubters and self-critics, give yourself some credit. Just keep swimming. And when it feels like you're treading deep water, or in my case, floundering, trust that you will trust yourself enough to say, "Stay calm. You got this".