by Ashleigh Lanvin
Hi, my name is Ashleigh.
A few months ago I was CERTAIN that I would never take up scuba diving. My parents have been diving for a few years now and they wanted me to follow in their footsteps.
The reason why they never tried to push me into diving was because they were afraid I was too young. However, everything changed when I turned 18 a few months back.
Knowing I was going to turn 18 this year, they made sure that this year's holiday would be spent in somewhere tropical and where I could take my diving license. They were convinced that 18 was the right age to push me into the deep dark ocean.
I was never a big fan of the ocean so this thought really made me scared. My parents on the other hand were sure that I would love diving the minute I went for classes. I always had a fear of the idea that my life depends on a single tube connected to an oxygen tank. If someone were to temper with it, that's the end of that.
The minute I stepped foot into Phuket, Thailand, my parents dragged me into a dive shop, where they enrolled me into an express 4 day dive course; in which I will get my diver's license in 4 days. The friendly guy at the shop told me to get up bright and early the next day and someone will pick me up from my hotel.
The next day my fears overcame me and I had all the intentions of missing the bus entirely. If it wasn't for the fact that the bus driver actually came knocking on my door, I wouldn't have left the room. (my parents were out bright and early for a dive expedition, leaving me alone in the room.)
I walked into the dive shop once again and was led upstairs where they conducted the theory classes and tests. There was a young man who introduced himself as Alex. Instantly I knew we were going to get along. He was funny and he totally understood my fears and he told me he felt the same way too when he first started!
He was very understanding through out the ordeal and ran through the whole safety procedures to give me peace of mind. Before I know it, the day was over and I was looking forward to the next day, which happened to be pool exercises.
The pool exercises went well, and at the end of that day I was really looking forward to the ocean which I would be able to go in the next day.
The morning of which I had to be in the ocean I felt nervous. Throughout the boat ride, I kept telling Alex I'm not cut out for it and I couldn't do it, and all he said was, "Calm down, Ash. You're probably one of the best divers I've taught so far." I laughed and replied, "Yeah you get a gold star on being charming."
He looks at me and says, "I'm a diving instructor." at this point I thought I had crossed the line. To my relief, he continued, "It's my JOB to be charming." and winked.
Surprisingly when I went down for the first time, I felt like it was second nature to me. I had no problems with the regulator and BCD (which was one of my biggest fears) and I felt fine swimming around 18m under the sea.
Alex gave me encouraging nods whilst I carried out some tests I was given underwater such as removing my mask and such.
At the end of the four days, I felt really anguished with the fact that I had to go back. I went to the dive shop for the last time to get my temporary certificate and bade goodbye to all the nice people I had met at the shop.
At first I was disappointed when Charles; the front desk man who greeted me the first day told me the Alex had taken the day off. I was just about to hug everyone and leave when I saw Alex running into the shop panting with a thick envelope under his arm.
I smiled and he told me to come up to the theory room upstairs. I went up and he gave me the envelope filled with underwater pictures that he had taken the last day I dived. Turns out, he was late because he was developing the pictures!
Inside was also a diving necklace (a dolphin pendant with the little red flag). He said he was really sad that I was leaving and hoped that the gifts were enough to make my dive experience worthwhile. All I could do was thank him profusely and hug him goodbye.
I realized that what my mother had said was right, I couldn't imagine hating diving. It was the best feeling I've had so far and It would never been possible if it wasn't for Alex and my parents.
I've just gone to another dive trip with my parents recently and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as a family.
p.s: Alex and I are still in touch and we plan to spend some time together, diving this summer!
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