by Paula Arturo
Like Nemo, I’m not the best swimmer. Unlike Nemo, I can’t blame it on a defective fin. I’m not the best swimmer because I lack style, and I lack style by choice. When swimming, all I really care about is the wonderful feeling of the water against my skin, relaxing, and disconnecting from the outside world. Swimming to me is about being in the moment, or as Heidegger would put it, being in the world. And that’s saying a lot.
My father, on the other hand, was an excellent swimmer and, to some extent, always hoped his technical excellence would somehow rub off on me. Needless to say, it didn’t. And that’s OK. Had the fruit fallen close to the tree, I’d have no stories of my own to tell, and what would be the fun in that?
So back when I was a kid there was this diving board of which, naturally, I was terrified. My fear was a source of frustration. I’d watch my father dive beautifully off it and hate myself for not being more like him, for being paralyzed by fear. Every now and then I’d work up the courage to climb up and walk all the way to edge… but then I’d look down and chicken out. And, of course, I’d cry.
My mom would try to comfort me because that’s what moms do. But my father never did. He never said a word, but I could tell he was disappointed. One day, he had enough and when we were sitting by the pool after yet another failed attempt at courage on my part, he dried my tears and said something like, “Paula, there are two types of people in the world. People who dive off and people who spend their whole lives watching others do it and wishing they could do it too. Which one do you want to be?” My father was not the wisest man and didn’t always say the right thing, but that day, he said exactly what I needed to hear. I didn’t want to be one of those people who wonder. That’s one thing I knew for sure, even when I was a kid. I wanted to try everything and see it all!
But I was scared, so I tried to negotiate a deal with him. I said, “Dude,” I never called him father or dad just dude or Mike, “if I agree to jump, will you wait in the deep end and catch me?” Much to my surprise, he said no. “I’m not always going to be around to catch you.” I’m pretty sure my heart skipped a beat when he said that. Before then, him being there to catch me was a given. It had never occurred to me, not even once, that that could ever change, that one day I’d be on my own. I wanted to cry. But I didn’t. Instead, I took the dive.
I remember my heart pounding. Water going up my nose. Bubbles everywhere. Confusion. Not knowing which way was up. Being underwater forever. But then I did what I always do in the water… just chilled and let my body float naturally.
At that moment, I knew I’d never be one of those people who wonder. I jumped that day and every day since. I jumped at the opportunity to become a translator, to go to law school, to move countries, to change jobs, to move homes… you name it, I took the dive. And here’s what I discovered: Things don’t always work out. Sometimes water goes up your nose and it hurts. Sometimes you hit the water so hard every fiber in your body is left aching. Sometimes you want to give in to the bubbles and confusion, and you feel like you will never find your way up. But you always do. And when you’re finally composed and breathing again, you look up at that diving board, victorious, and you take a swim, knowing you did it and there’s nothing much you can’t do if you’re willing to take the dive.
Why am I telling you this? Because Nicole and I want to help you face your metaphorical diving board fear. We want to help you take the dive to your business and professional goals. Contact us about YOUR complimentary 2on1 session to find out how.