Emily Mahr
I’m a business development strategist for female entrepreneurs.

Life: Blog

My colorful journey through this life.

Lessons from Learning to Scuba Dive

For those, like me, who quickly went to hum/sing The Little Mermaid song Under the Sea...

Now, back to scuba lessons.

I’m partially claustrophobic, so the thought of learning to scuba dive was on my list of things that would freak me out. We had talked for 5 years on and off about wanting to become certified scuba divers so we would have more opportunities for adventure during our vacations. This winter, it was brought up in conversation one night, and a few days later I pulled the trigger. We did our 10-or-so hours of eLearning, which PADI is aimed at teaching everyone legally able to learn (10-years is the minimum age), so the eLearning was a bit dry for us since we're avid snorkelers, and made ourselves learn about tides/currents/water beyond the general public many years ago. Once that was successfully registered as being completed, we scheduled our first in-person lessons.

The first day, it did not go well for me, but I was able to address some of my anxiety and come up with ways to handle it if it occurred in the future. For example, taking off my mask underwater for an entire minute freaked me the F out. I didn’t complete it my first time, but I did realize I could just count for the duration of my mask being off and I would eventually get the tap/squeeze telling me to put my mask back on. I passed the pool part of this test using this method, so I felt comfortable I would be able to pass the open water part of this test (which I did!). 

During my first open water (ocean) dive, I failed equalizing my ears right away, so I had to abort my dive due to not being able to even try to pass the lessons. I soon after realized I had a sinus infection, so it’s very good that I did not continue to dive otherwise I could’ve become severely injured. My second attempt at my first ocean dive, I took a few moments to learn how to equalize my ears and once I did it was smooth sailing. 

I also learned very quickly that I was not comfortable with wave swells that were above 5’ which meant timing my future lessons in the ocean around nature herself. 

Learning how to be buoyant in fresh water (the pool) was a lot harder than the ocean, so my frustration level in the pool was very high. During the ocean dive, this wasn't by any means an easy feat due to the current moving me, but I was able to complete this in a significantly less amount of time. And by significant, it took me almost 20 minutes in the pool to gain buoyancy, while it took only 5 minutes total in the ocean.

Having a plan is my preference for everything new to me, so when I learn what lessons to complete on each dive helps me mentally get prepared for then to hopefully complete it successfully on the first attempt. No one wants to spend all of their one in the water on lessons, when you can use the left over time (and concentrated air) checking out fish and underwater fun!

Lessons I learned from learning to Scuba

  1. Patience. Something I’ve learned over the course of my time on this planet, I am not a patient person. Ask anyone. Little did I think that learning to scuba dive would teach me patience. Getting my ears to neutralize underwater did me the biggest favor, learning to be patient and letting my body adjust in the time it needed versus when I wanted it to. There are MANY fish in the ocean, there will be plenty for me to see once my ears equalize. 

  2. Timing. Timing waves for entry, putting on your fins, timing tides for efficient use of oxygen and swimming out to your dive spot, know how much time you have left underwater, timing of waves getting out of the water. 

  3. Limits. Setting limits on your comfort level helps you be a better diver. Knowing how high waves you’re comfortable battling to get in and out of the water, knowing what temperatures you’re going to be in versus the warmth of your gear being able to handle, and knowing your habits of your dive master to have a level of communication that helps your dive go smooth. 

  4. Realistic goals. There’s a difference between being in shape, and swimming in the ocean carrying 30+ pounds of gear. Having realistic goals of what you can handle versus what you need to work towards should be understood. 

  5. Having a plan. While having a plan is totally different than having a plan that happens exactly as it was laid out, having a plan still is a good idea. Adjusting course for that plan to have a similar, and sometimes better, ending is easier when you know what the end goal looks like. 

  6. Comfort zones. Get a little further outside of your comfort zone each time you do something. Maybe you will see dolphins swim within 20 feet of you, in the wild, if you calm the anxiety and just dive below the surface. One of my adult dreams has been to swim the dolphins in the wild, in their natural habitat. So you might be able to imagine my anxiety when this happened, unplanned, during my second (ever) dive. It was awesome. 

Here are the photos I was able to take after finishing my certification course, becoming a certified open water diver.

Thinking about these lessons in different concepts, we can apply them to our normal life. How we handle situations is mostly dependent upon our reactions, and learning how to best react takes inner practice and self-development. 

Have you ever done something that you learned something from, which you didn't expect to learn? Please share! I love learning, and your share may help someone else struggling! We are a community, and must support one another in various ways.