I say all the time that I’m not a people person. I’m the first to admit that I am an introvert, and I’d rather spend my time with a good book than a group of people. (Don’t get me wrong. People, one at a time, aren’t horrible. I just don’t want to be with lots of them at once.) Knowing this about myself, I was honestly surprised last week when I was in a situation that made me wish I was surrounded by people instead of where I was. It went like this…
My husband and I were in sunny Florida for a work conference. Wednesday was gorgeous, and we had a full day of sun, sand, and relaxation ahead of us at Discovery Cove. Upon arrival, the staff gets you checked in, set up with a vest, snorkel gear, sunscreen, and a locker. Everything is included with your day pass: food, drinks, activities, gear, towels, the whole works. Sounds relaxing, right?
When we all had our gear, our group found a beautiful piece of beach and a row of chairs to call our own. A few people put on their vests and headed into the reef pool to snorkel with colorful fish, rays, and even sharks! (The sharks are in an underwater glass enclosure, but you can swim right next to them.) And thus began my underwater anxiety attack.
I had to go in and snorkel in the reef. I had already passed on the idea of swimming with a dolphin. What kind of loser would skip the beautiful reef too? I put on my yellow vest so the lifeguards could spot me, adjusted my mask, attached the snorkel, and stepped off the beach and into the gloriously warm salt water.
I walked a few feet out into the water, picked my feet up (because salt water makes you float), and put my face into the water, looking through the mask. That’s when I began to wonder if it was possible to hyperventilate while breathing through a snorkel. I don’t know if you know this, but there are fish swimming around in a reef. And this one held a whole lotta rays. Panic and anxiety ensued.
I held it together pretty well for most of the swim, and I was in the middle of thinking about how I had a new appreciation for humans when I swam around a corner, and suddenly had a huge, flat fish of some sort swimming directly at my face! (Did you know it’s possible to scream underwater with a snorkel shoved in your mouth? It is. I did. My husband heard it.) I popped my head up out of the water, and found myself face to face with a lifeguard. Awesome. She was literally about two feet from my face, and totally impressed, I’m sure.
I took a second to get my breathing under control and headed back into the water. If I had been anywhere near the beach, I would have been out of there, like, now. But I wasn’t, so I had to keep swimming. (Dory was right. You just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.) The rays really freaked me out, so of course this section held the largest ones I’d seen. I just kept praying they’d stay on the bottom and not find me the least bit interesting. They just stared at me with their big gooey looking eyes on their backs. Ick.
I made it safely back to the beach, quickly deposited my snorkel and mask back in their mesh bag, and never looked back. I was so happy to find people on the beach that I sat down and talked to one. It was delightful.