Facing the Dark Water

night ocean

31 Days of Fear Facing

This past October I decided to face a fear every day. If it sounds hard, good — you are right. However, the benefits far outweighed the actual fear. This week I’ll be sharing some of my experiences and highlighting the insights I gain – some are massive insights.

Today’s Fear

Last night, I decided to face a fear that I did not conquer (after two attempts) in the last month: Swimming in the ocean at night.

I am not scared of many things—like public speaking or conflict, or singing or dancing in public, or snakes, bears or cockroaches, or never being loved. I am not scared of being broke, obese or not raising my children correctly. But, when the list of fears came out of my head, it was pretty scary—who knew all that was living in there?

After all of the things that I faced in October, swimming in the night sea ended up being one of the top three scariest.

Facing, But Not Conquering Fears

The first two attempts to swim in the night sea were disappointing, but brought amazing insight: 1) You cannot see –and more importantly, you CANNOT HEAR a wave in the dark—until it is too late and they are already crashing upon your head. This made it extremely difficult to get past the wave line to the point where I could actually swim in the dark water. 2) This lack of warning is scarier than the slimy fish I stepped on, or the slimy seaweed I swam through, or even the currents that blendered me when my flippers were ripped off.

Conquered Fear

Last night, on my third attempt, I conquered the fear. I made it past the wave line, and could see enough of the water in the post post sunset light that it was dark grey in front of me, and black water behind me.

I forced myself to swim out to the point where my flippers couldn’t touch the bottom, and I waited. I waited until my panicked breathing became something I could control, and I looked around to get familiar with the lack of light, the wave movement, and my distance to shore. On more than four occasions, I was hit hard by something underneath me and I popped myself out of the water like a soggy Jack in the Box each time, only to realize it was a large boulder (covered in sea grass, to add extra drama). It was too dark to get used to, and I had no bearings so I couldn’t know when I was going to hit it each time—it is not something to get used to.

As I swam, I rose up with a big wave and watched the dim outline of it head to shore—I realize that my former fears were absolutely founded—these things gain more power, more momentum on their way in—and when you can’t see, your sense of hearing is heightened and the crash to the shoreline is so loud, so scary, that I have empathy with my two-week younger self—I was right to be scared. I also loved my current position. I loved being on the other side of that wave.

On the Other Side of Fear

My tenacity and pig-headedness had a pay off—I can now always picture my future self on the other side of something scary—having compassion for myself, and yet encouragement to keep going.

Your Turn

Now, this was a big fear—one that I had made several attempts at conquering, and one that I know most people have no desire to face. But I also have smaller fears, like a fear of lipstick that I faced earlier in the month (I don’t know how to use it, or why there are all those colors, and it has a mind of its own, creeping off your face like liquid. ANYWAY.). As we all know, there is a range of fear, and the lessons we gain by facing the smaller ones are just as meaningful, symbolic, and transferrable to our daily lives as the largest.

Start with the small things, or jump off to the big one—either way, try it and share it and see what it does to your self esteem, your way of viewing the world, your relationships and most importantly, the life you have left.

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Celia Sepulveda

She is currently the Vice President of PR Strategy at Neighbor Agency, and spends most of her days collaborating with clients on strategic media relations and story telling. She lives in La Jolla, California with her partner and two children.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of DrGreene.com. The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or DrGreene.com, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

  1. Kristen Hilyard

    wow! Thank you for sharing your vulnerability with us; I felt like i was conquering your fear with you, truly inspired. I shall now attempt to begin my long texas size list of fears. eek!

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  2. Celia — I’m very impressed that you decided to face your fears head-on. Wow.

    Honestly, I don’t blame you for being afraid of swimming in the ocean after dark. The lessons you learned are huge, but I sure hope you don’t plan to repeat this one. I think there’s a good reason for your fear — it’s not safe! I hope the other fears you faced are more like lipstick :)

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    • Celiasepulveda

      Ha! Thank you, Cheryl. You will hear about the lipstick fear pretty soon!

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