Facing my fears

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Do you remember your last family vacation? I remember growing up and taking numerous vacations. Usually we stayed at some beach resort by the ocean and spent the days in the sand and sun. Everyone would head out into the ocean to swim and play - everyone but me! I stayed in the pool and strictly on the beach. No way was I getting in that water. Why, you ask? I was afraid of all the fish. Confident they were going to eat me, I seldom ventured into the ocean waters. That all changed one day. The day I faced my fears and snorkeled with the fish in Hawaii was certainly a memorable day.
My mom, my grandfather and I were in Honolulu, Hawaii for spring break. It was a surprise trip so I was already extremely excited for anything. We planned our Thursday as a trip to Hanauma Bay, which is famous for its colorful array of fish and sea life. This was the big day for me, and my mom said she was going to force me to snorkel, whether I liked it or not. I always told everyone I want to be a marine biologist when I grow up. Since I was afraid of fish, most people never believed me. We arrived at Hanauma Bay in a bus, and began the long trek down to the bay. We rented our gear, slathered on the sunscreen, and I tried to mentally prepare myself for what was about to happen.
I finally gathered up my courage and waded out into the crystal clear, turquoise waters of the bay. I was in up to my knees and thankfully had not seen any fish yet. My mom and I put on our snorkel gear. I took a deep breath and let myself into the beautiful underwater world. I was immediately awestruck at all the coral, let alone any fish. I swam out a little further, holding my mom’s hand and then I saw them. The fish I had always feared, swimming completely oblivious below me. They didn’t attack me, or even look at me, but continued on with their fishy little lives. Now that I knew they couldn’t hurt me, I was ready to swim all day long.
I detached myself from my mom’s side and continued to explore all over the reef. I remember being so proud of myself. I possessed a new sense of adventure and I was curious now to spot all sorts of beautiful fish. I remember I followed a group of three shiny silver fish for quite a while, marveling at their exquisite demeanor. When I finally got out of their world and back into mine, I was extremely proud of myself. Later that night, relaxing in our hotel, I discovered the only bad part of the day was my massive sunburn all over my body. I had been so caught up in the magnificent fish I had forgotten to re-apply!
Looking back now, I don’t really know what I had been so afraid of. I think it could have been that the fish were just so different. I was only curious to learn about them, not scared. I now know that I do have what it takes to be a marine biologist. I don’t have to worry about the fish eating me and I understand they really aren’t all that interested in me. I can’t wait until I get the chance to go back to Hawaii, where I will be attending the University of Hawaii and pursue a degree in marine biology.





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