Stepping out of the comfort zone...

“We are torn between nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.”
— Carson McCullers 

Capernwray in February 2012

I am, without a doubt, the world's worst person for doing things on my own. I like the comfort of being beside a friend doing what I love, the idea of going out and doing something on my own terrifies me - I guess to some extent this is why I decided to stick myself way out of my comfort zone and book the trip of a lifetime, the year out travelling (and working of course). Over these last few years I guess I have been improving (and then falling back when relying on significant other to keep my head above water - never again), I've been trying to do things on my own - applying for a job in retail was a big push I guess. I was forced to mingle, forced to smile, and forced to grow as a person. Confidence has improved, I have (okay, had) a little bit of money in the bank to keep me going, I made new friends, I tested myself with different situations and hey - here I am. 

When I was studying for my Masters (which seems like an incredibly long time ago!) we were all given the opportunity to go on a fieldcourse out in Sharm-El-Sheikh to partake in a coral reef conservation, management, and monitoring course. Alongside the summer placement which really did win it for me, this was probably one of the main reasons for me choosing York - you know, a landlocked city - to study a marine based subject. All of the surveying work was to be done in the water as you'd expect and so it gave those of us who couldn't dive at that point an excuse to learn - and quick! I grabbed my buddy (who stayed with me through the UK and then diving in the Red Sea) and we went every Friday to buff up on our underwater skills, learn how to assemble the kit, breathe for the first time via SCUBA (a little scary for the first time!) and then eventually obtain our Open Water cert. Two of the dives were completed at Capernwray, Cairnforth but the mere 3 degrees C water meant we were both feeling a little under the weather for the next two dives the week after (and as such they were finished in the Red Sea - ah much better).

Since diving in the Red Sea I probably have been given the opportunity to go diving but I've just not taken it. The idea of going on my own (okay, going without my usual buddy) scared the living daylights out of me. We both knew what our air consumption was like, we were both at exactly the same level so neither of us felt silly if we made any rookie errors, she knew about my pain-in-the-bum ears and how it takes forever for me to equalise, and above all it was exciting to be able to talk about it when we got back... It became a comfort zone!

When I started doing some more thinking about the trip to Australia I knew I wanted to do my Advanced Open Water cert, I chose Thailand as I knew it was so diver-friendly (and I desperately wanted to see some Buddhist temples!!) I then realised this would mean diving with a new buddy and in comes the wave of oh-crap-what-am-I-doing? Talking to new diving friends on Twitter (I'm looking at you Iain and Karli) got me excited about this underwater realm again, made me realise I didn't need to be scared, that it was just like riding a bike and I'll be right on it again. A few more tweets and a little catch up with one of the divemasters who helped me when I was learning secured a date for a little meetup at Capernwray where I'd get back in the wetsuit (oh how I wish it was a drysuit) and get back in the water.

Three words. It was incredible. Yes, the walk from the parked car where we kitted up to the jump off point was a little long and my back hurt (well, I was carrying 8kg on my belt/in the BCD and the full 12L cylinder - plus maybe I'm just a little weakling when it comes to upper body strength), but once we jumped in and I got used to breathing out of the regs, sorting out my ears, checking my gauges, and realising how cold it was in a 5mm semi dry (despite a 5mm shortie wetsuit over the top), I had an incredible time. Iain had his camera in some underwater housing so I was so lucky to have some wonderful snaps from the two dives. How exciting!! I absolutely loved looking at some of the photos and I have to share them with you but as I've realised, diving isn't the most attractive sport in the world (but certainly one of the most rewarding).
Rache, xo

All underwater images taken by Iain Sharp

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  1. What an amazing story, I'm so impressed with you going out and doing it! I'm all with ya on having a comfort zone created by your friends, I definitely need to start pushing myself more xx

    1. Oh Becca thank you so much - that means so much. I do feel a lot more.. confident.. I guess. I even went to a tattoo studio on my own today and booked a tattoo ha ha. At long last!! xX



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