Daily Prompt: Apply Yourself

Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you.
Daily Prompt: Apply Yourself

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I remember taking swimming lessons about six years ago, when I was 45 years old. I don’t know what possessed me to take swimming lessons, after all of these years of not swimming, other than the fact that my work place had offered the lessons for free to the first ten people who signed up for it. I’m a sucker for things free, therefore, I was among the top ten…

Now, you must understand that I took swimming lessons as a child, and while I learned and grasped the technique in my mind, when it came to actually swimming, I just couldn’t do it. I did learn how to float on my back, quite well, if I do say so myself, however actually swimming required something that I was both unable and unwilling to force myself to do… It required getting your face wet… Now, lets fast forward thirty-some years to my adult swimming lessons.

This was the most challenging, frustrating thing that I’ve ever attempted. You see, it turns out that after all of these years, swimming hasn’t changed much. You’re still required to get your face wet, and lo, these many years later, I have maintained my aversion to getting my face wet… In case you’re wondering, I have figured out how to shower without getting my face sprayed… I use a washcloth to clean my face, but I never willingly stick my face in water, or allow the shower to spray my face… Sorry, I digress…

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Back to the subject. Aside from the “get your face wet” requirement, adult swimming lessons required a few added components, which made swimming lessons difficult for me. Unfortunately, I was so blinded by the free swimming lessons, that I hadn’t stopped to think that I would actually have to wear a bathing suit in front of other people that I know… my peers and co-workers…

You see, I’m overweight… I don’t look like I did when I was a 103 lb young adult… I have jiggles and wrinkles that I don’t even like to subject myself to seeing in a mirror, let alone my co-workers. Therefore, when I showed up for my first swimming lesson, I made it clear that I was not removing my tee-shirt, and if they required me to remove my tee-shirt, I was out of there. (I was secretly hoping they would not agree to this, but they very kindly allowed me to take my lessons in my tee-shirt.) 

Every week, for the next six weeks, I forced myself to show up for swimming lessons after work. I borrowed a bathing suit from a friend, because I didn’t have one of my own, and since these were free swimming lessons, it would have defeated the purpose if I went and actually spent money to buy a swimsuit for the free swimming lessons. I faithfully showed up to each of the lessons, because when I commit to something, whether I like it or not, I follow through with it, however, I refused to stick my face down in the water. (There are just some things I’m not willing to do, regardless of whether it’s free or not!)

Finally, the last night of swimming lessons arrived, and we had been told the week before to wear clothes and shoes that we did not mind getting wet, because we were going to jump into the deep end with our clothes, so we could see what it was like, in case we were ever on a cruise ship and fell overboard. Presumably, by experiencing this, we would learn what to do, in order to keep ourselves from drowning… We would also be required to jump into the deep end and remain afloat for one minute in our bathing suits.

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I showed up for that final night, and I really intended to follow through with this… But then it hit me! If I jumped into the deep end, my head would go under the water until I came back up to the top… If my head went under the water, my face would get wet! What was I thinking? Everyone went to the edge and one by one, they took their turn and jumped into the deep end, except for one woman, who had quit swimming lessons the first week due to her fear of the water, and then it was my turn to jump in.

I looked at my instructor and the other students, and I very calmly told her that I would pass on this part of my swimming lessons. She began to cajole me, urging the other students to “encourage” me as well, and in her attempt to goad me into jumping in, she said, “Look, Cheryl, everyone else did it, and you won’t pass your swimming lessons if you don’t jump in.”

What not to say to me. This only enforced my resolve not to jump in, as I replied, “I am 45 years old, not a teenager, and I do not cave in to peer pressure. Thank you for your lessons, and fail me if you must, but I will not jump into the deep end.”

In her final attempt to sway me, she said, “But Cheryl, what will you do if you’re on a cruise ship and you fall overboard?”

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To which I laughingly replied, “I get sea-sick, and I don’t make enough money to go on a cruise anyway. Therefore, this part of the swimming lessons is totally unnecessary for me, but thank you for your concern.” With that, I left the facility…

So, my dear readers, I leave you with this final thought… The best things in life are not always free.

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