Self-Care Challenge (Day 23): Overcoming Fears

nurse shark at the reef in Belize

There aren’t many things that scare me more than the thought of what lies beneath the ocean’s surface. The large, mysterious creatures of the deep with their sharp teeth and hungry eyes make my heart race.

But sometimes you just have to suck it up and move past your irrational fears to fully grasp life’s beauty. For me, this opportunity came in the form of a snorkeling trip off the coast of Ambergris Caye in Belize.

After nearly tossing my cookies several times as our boat made its way across the rolling blue water, we finally arrived at the reef area known as the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. This is a popular destination for adventurous tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of the ocean’s fascinating underworld.

I had only snorkeled a handful of times before this, so I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know what I was about to see made my previous experiences seem more like looking into the bottom of a plastic kiddie pool. At one point I swam just inches away from a nurse shark that was equal to me in size. I was wide-eyed and nearly paralyzed as it approached me, which is why the only photo I have is of it swimming away.

But the heavy pounding of my heart soon subsided as I listened to the orchestral arrangement of the ocean’s bubbling. The bright colors speeding past me in all directions made it feel like I was swimming through a painting. Below, two giant spotted eagle rays glided along the ocean’s bottom while countless schools of fish congregated like small villages in the nooks and crannies of the coral, each hoping to stay hidden from hungry predators.

I felt vulnerable floating in the middle of the ocean with only a swimsuit and rubber snorkel gear as protection. But as I thought about life above the water, I realized it really wasn’t much different. There are many things in life we cannot control–but we can always control the direction we swim.

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