Two years. I hadn’t gone swimming in two years. It wasn’t because I was afraid of the water—on the contrary, I craved its inviting coolness that would swallow me deep and deeper still. I hadn’t gone swimming in two years because— and it shames me to say it— I hated wearing a swimsuit. How pathetic is that?
When I’d go to the beach with family and friends, I’d stay covered up and wouldn’t dare to approach the water. It was too intimidating to display my imperfections on what was surely the ultimate ground of judgement. I refused to willingly step into comparison.
But what I didn’t realize is that I was already captive to it.
The comparison kept me quiet, covered, silent.
“This summer will be different,” I told myself. And I waited and waited for an opportunity to arise. I boldly packed my swimsuit and toted it around for the five weeks I traveled, just waiting.
It wasn’t until yesterday when my brother announced he was going for a swim in our nana’s pool that I saw my golden opportunity to break free of my silly insecurities.
“I’m coming,” I announced.
The swimsuit was never the point. Swimming was the point, and I missed out on watery freedom because of an obstacle that wasn’t even the “goal.” It was a means to the goal. And so, I missed out.
The struggle with a swimsuit is silly, I know, but I don’t want that to be my life. I don’t want to be so afraid of the steps on the way to my dreams that I don’t bother to try at all.
There I was, in my swimsuit, toes curling over the edge of the deep end. I’d forgotten how resistant I’d always been to jumping into frigid waters. I dipped my toe in. Shivers ran up my spine.
Maybe the shallow end would be just as welcoming for my return to water.
Because not every victory is a plunge off of the deep end.
Sometimes victory is wading into the shallow end.
And when I took the plunge, step by step, and sank lower and lower beneath the turquoise blue, it was freedom. Liquid imagination. I swirled and flutter kicked and floated.
Maybe next time I’ll do a somersault.