This week my friend Beth went through the PADI scuba certification to become an open water diver. I got a call from her Saturday after her first open water dive…. and it didn’t go so well. They have various skills tests and she panicked during the skills test where you have to flood your mask and clear it of the water. Although it is really simple, it feels super awkward and unnatural.
I get why she panicked, because I did the same thing during my scuba certification (7 years ago when I lived in Florida). I freaked the heck out and had a mini panic attack which brought on an asthma attack (which was also probably mental). When it first happened I was embarrassed and frustrated with myself. Why was this simple task SO hard? Well, breathing under water is not natural and your brain reminds you this and tells you to get to the surface. Especially when your mask is full of water and you have water up your nose.
Was I not going to pass over this mental game and waste the money I spent to get certified?? Fortunately I had a patient instructor who talked me through the skills and I ended up passing and getting my certification. I then went on to get my enriched air and deep water certifications as well. I LOVE scuba diving; it was amazing to breathe under water and swim with so many beautiful creatures. I was so glad I stuck it out and now have my lifetime scuba certification.
(I know you are super impressed by the hotness of me in scuba gear under water. Don’t lie, you think I am sexy.)
Back to Beth…. she was so upset and didn’t think she would ever be able to do the mask clearing without panicking, and not pass the class. I reassured her and told her I had the same mental issues, and that doing it was mind over matter. You had to tell yourself to stay calm, concentrate on the task and think of the reward. We went to the pool and practiced the skills. She was able to do the mask clearing and was confident when she left to go back a few hours later to try again. I got a call later that she completed all the skills tests, including completely removing her mask, replacing it, and clearing it of water. She was so proud of herself, and I was proud of her too!
This scuba situation also reminds me of the mental games that go into running. Specifically the mental game that occurs during the last 6 miles of a marathon. Running that long is not natural. Your body wants to stop and you are constantly fighting your mind and the urge to give up. But you tell yourself, “I trained 4+ months for this, I can’t stop now!” And you think of the reward of crossing the finish line; what an amazing feeling it is to complete a marathon.
Dang, this is a really nerdy post. I have effectively made everyone gag at my comparison of getting scuba certified to running a marathon. Sorry about that folks. I will try not to cheese out like this again. Really I just wanted to remind everyone that I am a super cool scuba diver and to insert a photo of myself to prove it to you (joking).