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A Fear to Overcome

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I love vacation! The sun, swimming, and special time with my family, are memories that remain vivid in my mind. Every year my family vacationed in Cancun, Mexico, for our annual winter vacation. Cancun was like a second home to me. We had our same villa overlooking the huge warm pool, and a little further to the horizon was the turquois blue Caribbean Sea. There is one thing about Cancun that I didn’t really like though, the ocean. The ocean was a place that I only looked from afar and only my toes had ever touched. I was afraid that the current would pull me under the water and I wouldn’t be able to breathe, and that the waves would drown me and drag me out to the sea. The ocean is also a beautiful place, one where my brothers would spend hours playing. There was a little part in me that always wanted to be a part of that and enjoy swimming in the ocean. I needed to overcome that appalling fear. “Would I ever be able to get this feeling out of my head?” I Wondered. One year I did just that!

Each year when we arrived in Cancun I would find a chair to lounge on near the ocean. It was a safe place I could watch from, while my family and friends enjoyed swimming in the waves. I walked the beach looking for shells and played in the sand, but I was the only one who would never go into the ocean. I was afraid. As much as I wanted to be part of the fun I just couldn’t go into the ocean.

I remember the year I turned five, when I realized I had never been into the ocean. My mom and dad had always tried to get me to swim in the ocean. They would hold my hand or carry me, but I was just too afraid. The closest I had ever gotten to the ocean was when the waves crashed onto the sand and flowed up to reach my toes, this propelled me to turn away and run from them. I played football, soccer and catch in the sand by the ocean, and still ran away from the waves. I thought to myself, “I can do this; I’ve been swimming since I could walk, everyone else loves the ocean.” The fear inside me was just too strong, I couldn’t do it. Swimming in the pool would just have to do for another year.

The following January, while on the airplane headed to Cancun, I told my brothers that I was going to swim in the ocean this year. I felt confident yet a little scared, but I was ready. I was going to face the ocean head on. I would devour that fear that was eating away my self-confidence. I was taller and stronger, and maybe if I just went in until the water touched my knees, I could say I swam in the ocean.
There we were in Cancun, the sun was hot, and one of my biggest fears lied right in front of me. It’s the big blue, the ocean. It looked cold and refreshing, but I was not going to just stand and look at the ocean that year. I knew I didn’t have time to waste. We were only in Cancun for seven days and I was not going to put that fear off any longer. I had been visiting that beach for as long as I could remember and that year, I was going to conquer that fear. I remember walking slowly towards the water; it was warm and somewhat inviting. My mom was with me, watching. She didn’t say a word. This was all up to me. The first wave crashed against my ankle, so far so good. I went in a little further; the waves were to strong, I thought they were going to pull me back into the ocean with them. I remember being tired from the plane ride; maybe the next day will be a better day.
It was day two; I was up bright and early. I looked from our terrace and I could feel the wind was calm and the green flags were up on the beach. Green flags meant the ocean was safe and the waves were calm, a perfect day to enjoy the ocean. I got slathered with sunscreen and headed down to the pool. I jumped in. the water was warm and I remember swimming and jumping from the fountain. I couldn’t help it but my eyes were being drawn to the ocean. My brothers were going to the beach and wanted me to come along. We were going to play some beach football and then cool off in the ocean. I gladly went along, although part of me wanted to stay behind and enjoy the nice, calm, and peaceful pool in which I felt so safe in. My entire family was down by the ocean, football was fun, but we soon got hot and sweaty and the sand began sticking to my skin. Everyone started laughing and sprinting off into the ocean. I followed, a little slower, but this time I ran into the ocean and found myself deeper than I had ever been. The water came up to my calves and as I looked down I could see my toes wiggling in the sand. I walked out a little deeper and looked back to find my mom watching. The waves weren’t as loud as they used to be. I went a little deeper and the water came up to my waist and my brothers were there watching. I thought I would never be able to go this deep into the ocean. I was having fun, first I jumped into the waves then I was diving face first into them. This was a feeling I thought I would never feel. The ocean had become my friend.
Looking back I spent many hours that week making up for lost ocean time from the past. My last day in Cancun that special year was spent swimming In the ocean until the sun snuck behind the hotel; my mom watching me from the lounger that was once mine. That last day of vacation was a day I’ll never forget. It would be another year before I would see the ocean again. That vacation was the one that changed all my vacations to come. I have pushed my fears of the ocean aside.



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