Jumping Ship (Part 1)

When I was little, I was convinced all of you would watch me swim in the Olympics one day. Absolutely certain. It's kind of hard to explain how there wasn't a question in my mind that this would happen. At some point in high school this belief was not so solid. I began to spend less and less time in the water. I started working.

Do I regret all those hours spent with my face underwater...jumping into all those two-a-day practices...forcing myself to wake up while it was still dark and plunging into a cold pool...getting ready for homecoming in the locker room after a meet...smelling like chlorine all the time?

I don't.

Specific moments were definitely difficult. The first lap in a cool pool in the early morning always felt especially torturous at the time. The deep gouges cut into the flesh on the tops of my feet etched in by the fins we wore one summer, the same spots where faint scars still remember, were so painful we added socks to our swim attire to create a barrier between flesh and rubber.

I can't even begin to calculate over the years how many hours I've spent alone with my thoughts staring at a black line painted on the bottom of the pool. Swimming is kind of an unusual sport in that while you are part of team, you spend the majority of your time at practice with your face in the water more than it is out. You get to know yourself pretty well.

Personally, I daydreamed A LOT. I don't know what other people do. I replayed social interactions (mostly wishing I could rewrite what was said) and created scenarios of "scenes" I'd like to see my character engage in. Swimming was actually pretty perfect for who I am. If I were to generalize, I'm mostly introverted. In real life I enjoy alone time (not all the time, but enough to tilt the scale). I find that I am more apt to feel awkward as opposed to comfortable or confident in most social settings. I don't just call people to hang out nor do I call friends (or family) "just to talk". It's just not me.

I sometimes find that I am jealous over those people who can speak so easily, expressing exactly what they mean without getting flustered or stumbling over their words. Those people who are witty and engaging and whose words don't seem to inadvertently offend or hurt others when they're just trying to share how they feel.

Maintaining friendships for me is like riding on a pendulum and trying to hang on. I am able to grab on to people and we have these incredible highs, screaming and laughing in our experiences and friendship, and as the pendulum swings back down in order to go up again, I lose them somewhere. I reach out to grasp them, to pull them back on but it's like they're just standing there, still there, but I can't reach them. I can't pull them on with me again.

For a long time fb gave me the allusion that this wasn't the case. I was able to "maintain" and "reestablish" friendships with people who I simply don't see or interact with in real life anymore. It felt real. I could see their pictures and watch their families grow and I felt like I was still connected to them in some way. I could read their updates and hear their voice and laugh over the things they said and did. I could "like" pictures and comments and posts. And for me this form of friendship, as embarrassingly pathetic as it sounds, was easy to hang on to. I wasn't ever put on the spot. I could spend some time articulating exactly what I wanted to say, if I wanted to say anything at all. I could stay connected without actually putting any real effort out.

It was just like when I used to make up all those scenarios while swimming. I was basically just creating an artificial world of what I wanted to see happen in order to satisfy my needs for social interaction. How sad is that?

I have taken a hiatus from fb for a couple months (6 weeks to be exact). I know it sounds all super serious based on what I just wrote, but really it's just that I was wasting too much of my time not doing much of anything.

Sometimes I wish that the comfort and confidence that never seemed to elude me in the water would stick around into other aspects of my life. I'm not completely socially inept or anything, it's just not as easy for me as I would like it to be.

And that is why I could never look back and regret all that time swimming. I'm in no shape to compete with Olympic swimmers at this point in my life, obviously, but when I get in the water to do a couple laps, it's like I never got out. It's natural. It's calming. There is an ease to the motions made, a relief, a release to any stresses that may have weighed me down; a buoyancy that keeps me afloat with little to no effort. It's a sanctuary that exists for me, one that occurs in very few other places.


Popular posts from this blog

Eat Healthy, Stay Healthy...at Dairy Queen

"Sitting is the New Smoking"

Holiday Pudding Shots