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This post was written by Matt Kepnes. All photos used were taken by me.
I’ve always wanted to learn how to scuba dive. When I started traveling, I promised myself I’d learn to dive. It had always been a life long desire of mine- to explore the world under the sea. All the beautiful pictures I saw of life underwater, the stories from other travelers, the bonds they seemed to share after a dive trip- all of it made me excited to learn to dive. But then trips to Australia passed. Visits to islands in Thailand turned into snorkeling trips. I always found an excuse to not to dive. I didn’t have the time, the money, I had other things to do, or I didn’t have anyone to go with. There was always an excuse!
Because the truth is I was scared. As much as I wanted to go diving, I was afraid that something would go wrong. I was afraid I’d get the bends, my regulator would fall out of my mouth, I’d run out of air, or something worse. My fears kept me from doing what I wanted and finding excuses.
But earlier this year, I met Gary in Fiji. Gary has been diving for years and was keen to go diving while we were on the Yasawa Islands in Fiji. Come learn with me he said. It was an intriguing idea because I always wanted to learn with people who have experience. It would calm some of my nerves. We checked out a dive shop. Gary said lets go and I said well, there are other things I want to see right now.
We moved islands. Then I said well, maybe on the next island. Then the next island came and I said well, it would take too long. I didn’t have the time to learn. Gary, finally fed up, said stop making excuses and go learn. You know you want too and if you don’t, I’ll make fun of you on twitter.
The thought of being stigmatized on Twitter was too much for me. I sighed and said fine, let’s go do the discovery diving trip. But he had to come with me. That way, if anything went wrong, I could blame Gary for forcing me to go.
Later that day we headed out for my first dive. I was as excited as I was nervous. I had a lot of questions. I wasn’t going to get the bends would I? How fast do I need to come up? What if I run out of air? After doing the basic safety lessons, we headed under. Before I knew it I was 5 meters underwater and enjoying one of the greatest moments of my life. I couldn’t believe I waited to do this.
Coming to the surface, I was overjoyed. Under the sea was amazing. Seeing the fish and coral up close puts everything in a new perspective. Later that day, I went out for another dive and the next day I finished learning how to dive and became PADI certified. Since then I’ve done 7 dives and all because I conquered by fear.
So often times we let our unfounded fears keep us from doing what we want. Travel is about expanding out world view and getting over our fears. But even when you travel, you can still find excuses to keep your fears. Sometimes what it really takes to get over them is a little push from someone outing you on twitter to get over them. Even if you don’t have that friend, you can use other travelers to push you and be your support when your fears keep you from doing what you want.