A Month Ago, I Could Hardly Swim; Now, I’m Learning to Surf
A change in mindset and humbling yourself often are the keys to reaching your success.
Of course, I can swim a bit. I’m just not very good at it.
Why am I not good at it? I’ve spent years filing swimming onto the “probably won’t do” to-do list, then proclaiming that I’m just not good at it.
I’ve done this very same thing with my writing career, relationships, and cooking… to name a few. I see this talked about a lot on Medium in relation to writing, especially.
We all do this in so many areas of life when, in fact, it has nothing to do with not being good enough. It’s just wildly uncomfortable starting from the bottom and feeling vulnerable, or worse — inadequate.
This strikes very true with myself: a personal trainer of over a decade and a diagnosed perfectionist. I struggle with being anything other than a seasoned expert at anything fitness related, living for achievements and praise, and not absorbing the fact that taking on a new challenge is an achievement in itself.
I forget that any successes or gains I’ve had in life have come from humbling myself and taking huge leaps into the unknown.
I forget to be aware of the fact that everything I wanted in life was way out of my comfort zone at one time:
- I moved from Aberdeen to London with only a few weeks’ planning to pursue a career in fitness where my direct competitors would be my idols.
- I left behind a successful career to become a new mother despite never having even held a baby before, only to do it as a single mum.
- I started a business mid-postnatal depression and severe insomnia to end up being a finalist in a local awards ceremony for “Best Business Setup” that year.
Like my 2-year-old girl — unaware of limitations, fearless — I would do what it took even if I didn’t think I was capable.
I lost some of that fearlessness somewhere in the last two years since becoming a mum. After the effects of familial emotional abuse took deep root, soaking into my being with the help of elevated hormones and the overwhelm of being the keeper of a precious life.
I would come quickly to realize, however, that not taking these leaps in fear was more damaging than staying in a pretty shitty, uncomfortable comfort zone.
This most recent leap was the lovechild of my bigger leap: traveling across the world solo with my little girl, while in recovery from emotional trauma and a failing business. Traveling to Bali threw me so far out of my comfort zone that I was acutely aware that I couldn’t just go home.
It tested my patience and my boundaries so far that I just had to drive through fast and hard enough to catch up with them.
It was on the last day I was looking out over Batu Balong Beach mesmerized by the silvery waves I wanted to wrap myself in, the surfers skillfully riding over and through them.
Jealousy isn’t becoming. I didn’t even really have it. More so adoration, or maybe a little attraction (some of them were hot!) — cut a girl a break.
I just knew. I wanted to do that.
I’ve always loved the idea of surfing. In my fitness career, I adore anything that requires skill and development, but somehow adding in the equation of water put it in the no pile.
I just slapped on a limiting belief like a name sticker at a stuffy conference: ‘can’t swim, can’t do that.’ It was my excuse and I was sticking to it.
In Bali, I decided that since I had removed the lifelong barriers I used as my reasons for not traveling (that I didn’t have time or money) or writing (that I didn’t have time, money, or followers), that I would come home and start doing a load of things I’d always wanted to do.
I’m capable of just about anything I want to do as long as I can shut down my fixed mindset and slip into the glorious growth mindset.
I’ve been swimming for two weeks now. I’m not great, but I’m not sinking either.
I’ve emailed my interest in starting some surf lessons in May to give me a little time to learn how to breathe and strengthen my confidence before I do. Without actually putting the contact out there it would be too easy for me to bail out and just stick with running and lifting, which I’m already good at.
I’m humbling myself, being understanding that I can’t go as fast as I’d like (yet) and that I will feel out of place (and that’s okay), because we all start somewhere. Learning to pull my focus back to myself and away from whether or not anyone is watching me feels so ironic when I’m forever calming people of these very same fears in the gym.
I write this likening it to a writing journey; like me learning to swim, it’s about just starting. You’ll only get better by writing more.
Looking at how to be wildly successful and earning a bomb is all well and good, but kind of like asking a personal trainer how to run a 3"30 marathon when you’ve never ran before.
Get really good at the basics and build from there, without jumping too far ahead and getting discouraged.
Set some goals; get consistent. Submit to publications you think are within and outwith your reach, expecting it to take time, and a lot of what you put out there will bomb.
Think big, sure. But start small, and humble yourself often.
Amanda Jayne is single mummy to Ruby, aged 2, Personal Trainer and Nutrition Advisor of over a decade; and a C-PTSD warrior passionate about sharing all she’s learned about personal growth, self-development, and her own healing and wellbeing journey.