My 11 year old son tried scuba diving the other day.
We were in a tropical location for Spring Break. The minimum age is 10 years old to do a little resort dive, about 20–30 yards off the coast. And his friend did it the day before and loved it.
My son is a strong swimmer, and both my husband and I are certified scuba divers. My son was a little nervous about the unknown elements but was excited to give it a try.
He sat through the lessons he needed to learn on land. Then he zipped up his wetsuit and got into the water with the instructor. The guy was great — funny and engaging with the kids, but also very patient. I sat with my book in the shade and was happy to see how it all unfolded.
I saw them swimming around underwater in the shallow area right by the shore. And the next thing I knew, my son was standing next to me, in tears. The rest of the group was swimming out and down, toward the reef.
I asked my son what happened. It was obvious that he had mastered all the skills in the shallow area.
The words spilled out in a rush, his eyes red and his voice high. I wasn’t sure what to do and I didn’t think I could do it out there!
But you were able to do everything right by the shore, I said. Why couldn’t you do it 20 yards away?
He didn’t know. He slumped down and put his head in his hands.
The truth was, the scuba diving came very easily for him. He had no issues with the swimming or the gear or the ocean.
What made it hard was that he got in his own head.
He decided that doing the exact same thing in a different location. Even with the instructor only a few feet away from him. Would be, should be, had to be harder. That the exact same skills that he did easily in shallow water would become insurmountable in deeper water.
Scuba diving came naturally to him. But he wouldn’t let it.
He felt like it had to be harder than that.
There are so many things in life that are difficult for us. For my son, he has several Learning Differences (the term I prefer for things such as dyslexia). The academic pieces of school, of life, are a struggle. He doesn’t learn the way other kids do. He has to work harder. And he does.
Scuba diving came easy to him. He is a natural in the water, and picked up all the skills intuititvely. And yet, he made it hard for himself. He got in his own head and decided that there had to be more to it, a missing piece. And without that missing piece he would surely, literally, drown.
Here was my advice to him, and to you.
Lets allow the easy things in our life be easy. Because the hard things will most certainly stay hard.
Don’t waste your energy psyching yourself out or beating yourself up when you find that it’s easy to do the thing. And don’t tell yourself that if something is easy for you, it’s not worthwhile or you didn’t do a good enough job.
Sometimes there is no secret, no trick. For each of us, certain things are just… easy. We all have times in our life when we don’t have to be brave and try hard and fail over and over again.
Can you let go and accept that some things won’t be a fight? That some things will flow, will be natural, will be a home run on the first pitch?
The hard stuff will demand everything from you. All your will and courage and strength.
Don’t make the easy stuff hard too.