Swim or Sink

Yesterday on Blogging 101 we were instructed to visit some blogs and leave comments. Yes, Master! I said. I will get right on top of it, Master. I wouldn’t dream of slacking off.

So I left a comment on this lovely blog, loosely inspired by what the lovely lady behind the lovely blog was saying. She wrote about dealing with anxiety and the obstacles we place between ourselves and the things we really want in life. This reminded me of my own life.

If you’ve read my blog before, you might know that I had to overcome a big mental hurdle to start writing. Several hurdles, you might say. I’d been planning to start a blog for years before I finally got the courage to do it. This article from Lifehacker, helped me make the leap.

Essentially it states that the amount of anxiety goes up right before and at the very moment that you do an anxiety-provoking thing. After that, it declines quickly. This thought of imminent relief really helped me decide.

It wasn’t like there was anything so new and groundbreaking about the phenomenon as such. I’ve observed it over and over again both in myself and others. First there is the rising tension that starts with a slightly nauseous feeling of general discomfort. This accumulates into a panic of clammy palms and a heart that does its best to break out of the ribcage. Your cheeks start to burn like warning lights, and all you can think of is that instead of doing this crazy thing you should be in a quiet place feeding the ducks or preparing for the next Nanowrimo.

Then, you can’t put it off anymore. This could be for personal reasons or due to some unempathetic external force (like your boss or your mother) bickering at you to do whatever you have to do. So you take a deep breath and approach the diving board.

Next comes the terrible, terrible feeling, which is like plunging headfirst to an empty pool from the top platform. The air whooshes by as you hyperventilate your way towards the bottom. You close your eyes and wait for the pain.

diver

But then, nothing. You’ve done it. Surprise! The pool wasn’t empty after all. The water’s not exactly nice, it feels chilly and you struggle to stay afloat, but there you are. Not a wet splotch at the bottom of the pool but swimming. Others swim alongside you.

Within instants you morph from the crazy girl who shivered by the pool and cried all night about going in, into one of the swimmers. Some of them swim faster than you, some slower. That’s not a big deal. And a little by little, you realize that you’re limbering up. The water’s lovely. You’re actually enjoying yourself.

But I’m not suggesting that you do just anything and trust you will float. You do need to think carefully about what you’re capable of and how much you can take on at one time. This might not be the same as what Janice next door can take on. For me, starting a blog like this with low pressure about the subject matter and no audience was like going into the practice pool with inflatable armbands. Mostly nice and comfy, but still with a slight risk of drowning.

Of course the anxiety won’t just disappear. It might always stay with me. But I believe it will get less, as long as I act. I wish all the anxious people started to act. Right now the world is missing out on some lovely people and some great ideas.

In such a short time, blogging has made my life so much richer. All I can think of: why didn’t I start blogging years ago? What was I so afraid of?

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16 thoughts on “Swim or Sink

  1. I enjoy it when people upsidedown clichés, so your title drew me in. It’s the ‘oh I know this feeling’ and the authenticity of your writing that kept me reading, though. A very timely post for me, too. Thank you for jumping in the pool. This swimmer is glad for your company.

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  2. I totally agree with your last statement there. Blogging is a hoot and I often wonder why I waited so long. Guess I thought no would want to hear what I had to say. But like you, my life is so much richer for having taken the chance. I’ve made some wonderful friends here.I’m glad to be able to add you to them!

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  3. Love this. I knew a man, an ex army ranger who used to say it was easy to get people over their fear of water — just get them to play in the shallow end of the pool until they get bored. I think that’s whats most intimidating about blogging … it isn’t always clear where the shallow end of the pool is.

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