Sometimes the most innocent of questions can make you really rack your brain. I was just asked what my #1 Bucket List item is. Well, I thought, that’s easy…move abroad. Ah, but I also want to travel. And own my own home. And have a family. Then there’s the fact that I want to experience so many things, and I would struggle to pick just one of those to top the bucket list. So then I thought ‘what would make me truly happy, and give me the greatest sense of achievement?’ And the answer was simple.
Swim in the sea.
I’m sure that’s not what you were expecting, and I’m pretty sure most people wouldn’t rate that as much of achievement at all, let alone on par with owning a home or moving abroad. It may seem a simple thing to many people, especially as I live just a couple of hours from the beach.
I can swim, that’s not the problem. My parents made sure that as soon as I was able, I was going to learn to swim. They didn’t want for me to not be able to swim in the sea or pool safely. And as a youngster, I was more than capable of swimming in the sea. No fear – I’d run into the waves with my brother and we’d spent hours splashing about. I remember one year I was in the dinghy as he pushed me out, and we saw a jellyfish. I was safe as anything in the boat, but he was at major risk of getting stung as it floated by him. And yet I still wasn’t scared to swim in the sea, even knowing that I could get stung by jellyfish.
Yet as I’ve gotten older, I’m more scared of being nipped by a crab or stung by something. And then there’s the great unknown that is the sea. If I can’t see the bottom, I don’t like it. Who knows what’s swimming about under me. I’ve seen plenty of documentaries about sharks, killer whales and box jellyfish. Until recently, I hadn’t been in the sea for about 5 years. I’ve been to the seaside many times, but just let the water wash over my feet. My ankles barely get wet! Then on a recent holiday to Cyprus, I went on a boat trip with my boyfriend’s family and friends. We stopped in a cove and everyone jumped in. I was petrified, and was the last one off the boat into the crystal clear water. I could see the bottom, I could see there was nothing in there. I even took a photo to prove to my mum I’d been in the sea. Then my boyfriend said he felt a fish, and then someone else said it. And quick as anything, I was out again.
We tried to go surfing in Newquay last summer, but I couldn’t go in the water. I must have looked so stupid as loads of kids raced past me, but I could see the jellyfish littered on the beach. Turns out those ones can’t sting you, but I know if it had touched me I’d have freaked out. My poor boyfriend has tried many a time to coax me into the water, and I’ll eventually just tell him to go for a swim and I’ll relax on the sand.
So of course I’d love to travel the world. I’d love to own my own home and have a family. I’d love to be successful in whichever career I choose, and I’d love to experience all the things on offer in the world. But the one thing that would give me the greatest sense of self achievement would be to be able to swim carefree in the sea. To conquer one of my biggest fears.