I Believe in SCUBA

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In June of 2009, I went with my family to Key Largo, Florida for a vacation. We headed out into the emerald waves nearby to go SCUBA diving. As we skimmed across the choppy water, I felt a mix of emotions. I was excited to try SCUBA diving for the first time, nervous to put my skills to the test, and anxious about the possible dangers of diving. Strong gusts of wind greeted our boat as we reached the spot our dive would start. The rapid slap of waves against the hull synced perfectly with my racing heartbeat.

As I watched my family disappear into the menacing depths below, I sat fumbling with my air regulator, trying desperately to remember which hose went where. Panic tugged at the back of my mind. Eventually I was the only diver left on board. I crept uneasily to the edge of the bow, took one final breath, and let myself fall into the angry foam below.

Underwater, the transition was dramatic. As I descended past towering corals and vibrant fish, I felt as though the increasing water pressure squeezed out all of my previous fear. An incredible sense of peace settled over me. The intensity of the colors, the perfect harmony of the marine life, and the gentle sway of the algae in the incoming tide all contributed to a feeling of complete contentment.

As I sank closer to the sandy ocean floor, a baby sea turtle swam up next to me, completely unafraid. I watched him drift lazily by and felt foolish for letting my fears take such control of me. I spent the rest of the dive exploring the reef as much as possible. Each new discovery was more impressive than the last. When the time to surface finally came, I emerged from the water confident in my ability to overcome fear. I was eager to take on more new challenges.

To this day, my fear-no-challenge attitude inspires me to approach new situations with confidence and open-mindedness. For example, during my freshman year at Penn State, I fearlessly approached making new friends. Early in the fall, my hallmate Rohit invited me to play cricket with him. I might have passed because I didn’t know how to play the game, and I didn’t want to look foolish in front of Rohit and his friends. But instead, I gave it a try. Although I’m still a beginner, I’ve gotten pretty good at cricket. And it’s not uncommon to see me hanging out in Rohit’s room watching the Indian national cricket team on TV.

If it weren’t for my experiences SCUBA diving, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to step out of my comfort zone, meet new friends and try new things. I’ve gone diving many more times since that first time in Key Largo, and each time I’m reminded of the importance of approaching new situations with confidence. Whether it’s trying a new sport, making new friends, or facing new ideas with an open mind, diving has enabled me to move past my fears and to explore everything life has to offer. I believe in SCUBA diving.

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