Last weekend, I stayed in a hotel with a swimming pool in the backyard. 

“Great.” I thought. I had brought my swimming suit, and I have a weekly exercise goal to swim 3 times a week. 

Swimming is always one of the best exercises for people like me, whose work is highly reliant on the computer.  I started to work from home during the first year of COVID-19 in 2020. Starting in March 2020,  working from home, which means working by my computer, is my work plus lifestyle.

I spend at least 10 hours on my computer every day. I also use my computer after work for things such as writing, checking personal emails, doing online banking, or using social media to communicate with my friends and family. I know swimming is one of the best exercises to prevent back pains and neck pains for everyone.

In the past, I did not swim at all; I used to be afraid of having my face in the water until one day, I was motivated to learn to swim as I wanted to be a companion for John since he was learning to swim at that time. 

After I learned to swim, I started to swim regularly as it’s not easy to grasp the new skill after taking 2 complete courses, which means 20 swimming classes,  and I finally did it. I know how to swim the breaststroke style! After the COVID-19 rules were dismissed, people could go to public places; then, I started to swim again! It was such a hard skill for me to learn, I don’t want to lose it for sure. 

However, I had only swum in pools to the 5 feet marker.  Why? As I am 5.47 feet. I could have my feet on the bottom of the pool whenever I needed. That made me feel very safe. I won’t drown if my feet can touch the pool bottom

So, back to the Saturday when I stayed by the pool. After brunch, I changed to my swimsuit and went to the swimming pool. I stepped into the pool, and soon, I felt frustrated. The pool was small and seemed like half of a full swimming length. It was surrounded by trees and had clear blue water. It had a few beach chairs and beach tables. What else do you need for an outdoor swimming pool?

However, the scariest to me was that the swimming depth sign read 5 feet on one end and  8 feet on the other end. 

8 feet for such a small swimming pool? What a ridiculous design!

I was not happy about the depth. Then, I had to use just half of the swimming pool, near the 5 feet mark.

I swam back and forth between the half-pool, which is 5 feet. While I glanced at the 8 feet, the other half nearby. I was thinking, why does this 8 feet look so scary to me?

The water was so clear, and the sunshine shone through the water; it had lots of lovely sparkling beams in the water. Plus, there was a cafe nearby; the smell of bacon and toast from the cafe’s kitchen made me hungry again; everything was so lovely. But why was I scared about the 8 feet?

I swam back and forth, I was thinking, could I overcome this 8-foot depth today? Could I challenge myself, although there was no lifeguard around and I was the only person in the pool to swim over to the 8-foot end? Was there someone to rescue me if my legs got cramped and I started to lose control and started to sink? Was that going to happen to me?

It might seem funny.  However, I was very seriously thinking of that. In my lifetime, I had never stepped in water that was deeper than my height unless I had a swimming ring with meI could not imagine what would happen if my nose was underwater and I started to sink. How could I raise my head above the water? I was horrified by these thoughts.

I used to swim in a pool that sometimes was crowded with people, as lots of beginners chose a shallow pool that was under 5 feet.  There is a much less crowded 9-foot pool beside that pool. I tried to walk over and take a look one day, but I felt dizzy and returned to my safe pool.

However, I was about to challenge myself that Saturday after evaluating the pool again. I didn’t want to lose the chance of using the other half of the small pool. Even though I could not touch the ground (8 feet is way higher than my height), I could swim near the poolside to seize the sides if I was about to drown. I used those tips when I started to swim. Yes, thinking of seizing the side made me safe. I could swim by the 3 sides of the 8 feet end, so I should be okay. 

After deciding, I thought I should not die in a lovely tiny pool on a lovely Saturday morning. I took a deep breath and swam to the 8 feet of water!! 

I made it!! Nothing happened to me; I swam nonstop for 15 minutes, without needing to touch the ground or seize the poolside at all!!

I was thrilled!! Although there was no lifeguard around, I swam alone in the pool, but I had finally overcome my fear of swimming in a pool deeper than my height.

You will understand what I just said if you are new to swimming or you dare not swim yet. People who cannot swim are usually those who are afraid of water.

However, how many times have we underestimated ourselves like this? I knew I could swim without stopping for at least 15 minutes, and I knew I didn’t have a crick in my legs when swimming. But I still thought swimming in a pool above my height could make me die. 

I read a book recently, and the book said lots of people like to feel safe and comfortable and choose the safest choice. Why are lots of people competing in the same areas? For example, students compete for SAT or SSAT scores because that is a safe choice.  After getting a high score on those exams, there is a high chance of getting admitted in a nice high school or a university. Lots of people have proved that choice. People don’t like being the first to try something new and unknown.

People like to stay in a career that lots of people have confidence in; for example, lots of students like to take engineering courses because that’s a skill that can make job hunting easier after graduation. 

I have a cousin who was a pediatrician in a small city in China; one day, I told her that my friend said their hospital was hiring several skilled pediatricians in Guangzhou. She was excited about it; she wanted to come to Guangzhou as she knew Guangzhou was a first-tier city and had a lot more opportunities for young pediatricians like her. 

But soon, she hesitated because the hospital could not provide a regular headcount at that time; it was a contractor headcount, although they said there would be an opportunity to transfer to the regular staff within 3 years. 

After much thought, she decided not to accept the offer; she would rather stay as a regular staff member in a 4th-tier city. She does not see many opportunities in her future, but she did not take the chance to come to a city full of opportunities. 

Lots of people prefer to stay safe, whether for career choices, marriage choices, big life choices, or everyday life choices; my husband is the type of person who doesn’t like to try new food at all times. Every time we step into a restaurant, he likes to choose what he already knows. If I picked something new and it turned out not satisfying, he would say that I should have chosen the food I already knew and had in the past. 

How many people are like that? Even small adventures seem not worth trying. Because people prefer to “have their feet on the ground.” The result is that they could be missing opportunities. The opportunities can be missing excellent food in a restaurant you first visit, a nice spot in a new city, an interesting friend in your life, or reading an inspirational book from an author you haven’t heard of….. That can be missing many nice things in your life, which could make your life journey much better.