To Jump, Or Not To Jump?

October 23, 2007
It was another typical Sunday in my household. With all three of my sisters now away at college, my mother and I attempted to find any measly and unnecessary task to stay out of my dad’s workaholic radar. On this Sunday, our task was sorting through our collection of photos. Well, more like reminiscing. After countless boxes of old photographs of my sisters and my parents from our old home before I was born, we finally found some younger pictures of me; my first day of school, my first bike ride, and my field trip to the zoo to name a few. Then I stumbled upon a snapshot of me jumping off the diving board at my local park district swimming pool. It was not only my first time off the high dive, but also the first time I beat my older sister, Kaitlyn, at something.
Kaitlyn is my sister who is three years older than I am. She has always excelled in athletics. Sports such as basketball, volleyball, dance, softball, and especially, soccer have been her forte in the athletic world. As for me, I was more of the average athlete in the family, always making the underdog “B” team instead of the prestigious “A” team. However, on that one savory, hot summer day, everything seemed to change.
Over the years, the pool had become the sacred hangout for my family when the mercury hit 80 degrees or above. Every summer my family always did their best to meet at Birchwood on Saturday afternoons for family swim time. It was the usual splashing, snacking, and socializing that every family member loved. My two older sisters, Jenna and Ashley, would attempt to entertain Kaitlyn and me with games such as Marco Polo, Water Aerobics, and on that fateful day, the competition of Truth or Dare.
“Kaitlyn! I DARE you to… um… hold your breath underwater for 30 seconds!” Ashley shouted as an evil grin widened across her sun kissed face.
“What a stupid idea!” My oldest sister Jenna snapped back. “Is that really your best idea? Well Kaitlyn, I DOUBLE-DARE you to jump off the high dive!”
A sudden look of despair came upon Kaitlyn’s eight year old freckled face. ”What?” She replied timidly with a dumbfounded look.
“You heard me. Go jump off the high dive!” Jenna chuckled back with Ashley right behind her.
“No way! I am not doing that!” Kaitlyn said as tears welled up in her bright blue eyes.
Then a tiny voice came from behind them.
“I’ll do it!” I shouted with glee. They all looked at me in awe. What my sisters did not know was that I was actually terrified, but I was hoping that jumping off the sinister high dive would score me some points with my older sisters and help my chances in gaining their respect for at least the next couple of weeks. If my plan worked, that meant that I might actually be included in my sister’s fun games and not be picked on.
“Fine! Do it Linds! Show Kaitlyn how it’s done!” Ashley and Jenna both shouted as they lifted me out of the pool.
As my tiny five year old stature wobbled its way over to the high dive, my sisters whispered and giggled in the pool. “What have I gotten myself into?” I thought to myself as I turned the corner to find the enormous blue landmark towering over my head. I looked back towards the area where my family was swimming and saw my sisters waving with assurance. “You can do it Lindsay!” They yelled, all except for Kaitlyn who was pouting by the stairs.
I looked down at my trembling feet as I slowly ascended the never ending ladder to my soon fate. After what seemed like an eternity of climbing, my foot plopped down on the diving board. The vibrations of the flailing board traveled through my whole body. I slowly crept to the end of the board, trying my best not to let my nerves get the best of me. I felt as if I were a pirate’s prisoner, walking the plank to my deadly fate below. My stubby toes slid over the edge of the board.
“Whatever you do, don’t look down!” Ashley screeched as she flashed me a thumbs-up.
This was it. There was no way out now. All of a sudden, I heard a familiar voice from below. My mother tried to encourage me by reminding me to “Remember the little engine.” I started chanting under my shallow breath, “I think I can, I think I can … I know I can!” I took a deep breath, super glued my eyes shut, and jumped! My scrawny legs lifted off the platform as I plugged my nose to prepare myself for the demon below. My body took on a squirming rock formation as I landed in the pool. The water hit my toes like concrete; it felt as if I had broken every bone in my feet. The water quickly surrounded my body like I was in a submerged coffin. As I opened my eyes, all I could see was the aqua blue water with the occasional set of legs floating near by. I looked up and followed the bright light to the surface where I quickly gasped for precious air as if it was my first breath. After the water had cleared from my ears and my nostrils, all I could hear were the piercing chants, cheers, and whistles from my loved ones.
“Way to go LindsBins!” My father yelled at me from the side of the pool. I swam over to him and was greeted with a giant bear hug by both of my parents. I looked over to see my sister’s faces smiling at me in awe.
“I can’t believe you did that!” Jenna said as she climbed out of the pool to greet me.
“That was awesome!” Ashley said.
“I feel so stupid!” Kaitlyn cried as she looked at me with embarrassment. Her freckled face squinted and turned away. I ran up to her and hugged her. “It’s okay Kaitlyn. You can do it too!” Thanks to my encouragement and bravado, Kaitlyn was soon jumping off the high dive like she was a pro, and everything seemed to fall back into place.
Later that day, I left the pool feeling like a million bucks. To me, my life had changed. That measly jump off the diving board had given me the courage I needed for the rest of my life.
As I looked at the photo one more time, a feeling of accomplishment came over me. Jumping off the high dive will be something I will treasure forever; although it only lasted one short day it has left me with a memory that cannot be erased. The courage that filled me that day has continued to grow and has helped me make the person I am today. If you think you can, and you believe you can, chances are you probably can do anything.

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