EVER FEEL LIKE YOU’RE DROWNING? KEEP KICKING!

When I was about eight I finally learned to swim. I’d had countless lessons but I just didn’t believe the water would hold me up.


Then one day my friend gave me a friendly shove. I happened to be standing by the deep end at the time and could easily have drowned. Instead my instincts kicked in and I swam - legs kicking, arms pumping - to the surface.

I didn’t get angry with my friend (not wanting to appear stupid I’d foolishly told her I could swim). Breaking the surface in slight shock, I didn’t confess couldn’t swim a stroke – after all, I’d just proved I absolutely COULD. I can still recall her telling me that my swimming was funny but I simply smiled back and carried on practicing my amazing new skill.

I don’t know this girl anymore but if I did I’d thank her from the bottom of my heart. That potentially fatal incident (which I never told my mum about because I wasn’t allowed anywhere near the deep end) actually saved my life in a funny kind of way.

When I was about eight I finally learned to swim. I’d had countless lessons but I just didn’t believe the water would hold me up.


Then one day my friend gave me a friendly shove. I happened to be standing by the deep end at the time and could easily have drowned. Instead my instincts kicked in and I swam - legs kicking, arms pumping - to the surface.

I didn’t get angry with my friend (not wanting to appear stupid I’d foolishly told her I could swim). Breaking the surface in slight shock, I didn’t confess couldn’t swim a stroke – after all, I’d just proved I absolutely COULD. I can still recall her telling me that my swimming was funny but I simply smiled back and carried on practicing my amazing new skill.

I don’t know this girl anymore but if I did I’d thank her from the bottom of my heart. That potentially fatal incident (which I never told my mum about because I wasn’t allowed anywhere near the deep end) actually saved my life in a funny kind of way.

It taught me the most valuable lesson I could ever learn at a very young age - one that got me into journalism with barely a qualification to my name. You see I’ve realised recently that I’m a bit prone to anxiety. I put things off because I worry I’m not going to be good enough. Even when I’ve done a good job I think of all the things I could have done better. Sometimes this procrastination - this fear - stops me doing anything at all. But every now and then I find the confidence to say “screw it,” and do it anyway.

Over the years that ‘sink or swim’ moment has given me the strength to get through school despite some nasty bullying, get into a career I was told to avoid (on account of journalism being too competitive!) and pass a master’s degree in broadcasting despite an absolute terror of appearing on camera.

Recently I’ve been feeling like I’m in over my head because I’ve set up a business knowing absolutely nothing about running one. Leaving my job has felt a bit like closing my eyes and jumping off the edge of a cliff. I did it anyway (thanks to my old swimming buddy) but the anxiety doesn’t stop there.

At first, I was going to meetings every week telling people about my fantastic new business and then worrying I might actually get asked to do some work - in case something went wrong. Is it just me or are other people that crazy too? Once again, I had to keep reminding myself to take a deep breath, jump right in and keep kicking!

Recently I was approached to do something completely outside of my comfort zone. I was asked to write the copy for a wonderful charity’s new website. It may not sound that hard in theory but I’ve never written copy for another organisation’s website in my life. What made them think I could do it? I’d written press releases for them and filmed a couple of short videos for them - but that’s a far cry from an entire website!

I nearly said no because I had a busy project and a holiday coming up (a genuine excuse, but an excuse nonetheless!) I wanted to say: “There are people out there who do this for a living and they’re great at it – use them!”

Instead I explained my reservations as honestly as I could and was asked to do it anyway. It was a bit like being given that shove at the edge of the pool. I knew what I was supposed to do, in theory, but wasn’t entirely convinced I could actually do it. Of course, I know how to write - I’ve been doing it for over 20 years! But I also know that writing a news story or a press release and writing an entire website are quite different skill sets.

But - me being me - I said yes anyway and began the long process of researching, writing, reviewing, writing again, deleting, writing again and so forth. It wasn’t easy. That gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach, that fear of the unknown, was still there. I knew the easiest way to make that feeling disappear would simply have been not to do it. I’ve often thought my life would be so much easier if I took the path of least resistance more often (and I genuinely do like an easy life!)

But that would mean missing out on that amazing feeling of accomplishment you get when you jump in the deep end and come out swimming!

So thanks to the person who reminded me I can swim, even if I am sometimes scared of the water!

· By the way, here’s the website in question. It’s a fantastic organisation so please do take a look: http://www.stgileshospice.com

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