All through middle and high school, I had been that obnoxiously outgoing girl. You know, the one who turns around and introduces herself to everyone within hearing distance in lines at concerts, has no problem getting up in front of her youth group and acting like a doofus, makes it all the way to the provincial level of public speaking competitions without batting an eyelash. Then, in university, it started small - as simple as I could not possibly spend the night at someone's house, I would fight tooth and nail to get back to my apartment after a night out at the bars. I knew that it was turning into a problem when I started taking an economics course mid year and I got up on the first day and gathered my books, ate breakfast, showered - got all the way ready to go and got to the door to leave and turned around and climbed back into my bed, unable to face the "newness" of a whole class of new faces, a professor I had never met, and a completely different part of the university than I had ever had a class in.
It never developed into anything that has affected my quality of life but I know there are some experiences and friends I have probably missed out on as a result of my desire to stay home, where I am comfortable.
So when I decided I wanted to add "something else" besides dog walking and biking to work to my exercise regime, I picked lap swimming. We have a local pool that offers a pretty decent price and is not far from our apartment, so I investigated it as much as I could online... but then I came to questions I couldn't find the answers to online - like what sort of people swim there? Am I going to get hated on for being a slowpoke? How do you know which way to swim? Which time is the busiest to go? And of course... the one that I try to never let myself ask but pokes it's head up ALL OF THE TIME and I think is the root of all of the anxieties I have about just about everything - even though I know better than this - Am I going to be the fattest person there?*
All of those unknowns cause me a lot of anxiety so yesterday, G put me in the car and drove me to the pool without my bathing suit so I could take a peek in through the big window and see what sort of people swim there, and how fast they are swimming (the answers were all sorts and all speeds). I talked to the lifeguard at the desk to get a feel for it and he told me I should swim in the medium speed lane because the slow lane is mostly people walking or flutterboarding. He told me that the midday swim is usually the busiest.
Armed with this information, I steeled myself to go back today and actually swim. I knew I had to take my information I had gained and the little burst of bravery that I had and go swim sooner, rather than later, or I would chicken out completely. So I put my swimsuit and a towel in a bag and headed out. I was extremely nervous as I left the house, tummy full of butterflies - what if they don't like me? G gave me a hug and told me I would be just fine and sent me out the door.
As I parked the car, I wanted to turn around and go home, but I knew that G was at home and would know I hadn't swam if I just turned around and went back with dry hair, so that little bit of knowledge forced me into the reception and changing rooms. By then, I was most of the way there so why not just try it?
So I did. And obviously, I am here to write this and my entry didn't start with "NEVER GO LAP SWIMMING, IT IS HORRIBLE!". The truth was that it was uncomfortable at first, but I enjoyed it. It felt like a physical challenge. I pushed my body and my mind and I came out alive on the other end. There were, indeed, bodies of all ages, and shapes and sizes and speeds. In fact, the most inspiring swimmer there was a woman a bit bigger than me. She came to the pool, got in the medium speed lane, put her head down and went right to work. I felt like my strokes were frenzied and challenging, I felt like I was splashing a lot, but she cut through the water like a hot knife in butter, with slow, methodical strokes. She was a beautiful swimmer.
Am I going back? Of course.
If you're comfortable, you're not growing.
* And really, who cares if I am? I am as entitled as anyone else to pay my $3.50 and go swim as many laps as slowly or as quickly as I want to, regardless of my size or skill level.