Kick out the Jams

Did you know what you were getting into when you first started diving?


I didn't. I'd done a couple of "Discover Scuba" type afternoons during tropical trips over a few years before committing to a full Open Water class. I knew I had to buy some gear, but I had no idea whatsoever of the relative complexities of learning to dive versus just clearing a mask and not holding my breath.


The courses kept coming. Advanced. Deep. Night. Navigation. Rescue. Deco. Cave. Trimix. CCR. And with each subsequent course the learning curve kept getting steeper and steeper.


Some, naturally, were more challenging than others; the academic or skills leap from A to B sometimes being shorter than from B to C or vice-versa. Some instructors were more demanding than others; some content to be meet minimum standards, others masochistically believing they're only doing their job if they set impossible standards.


In each case, though, it was always a bit of a surprise. A tantalizing, little adventure into some other facet of a world that I'd already thought I'd known pretty well. Because no matter how well I'd thought I'd known it... the reason to take a class is because you don't know it as well as you thought you did. You don't know what you don't know, right?


And therein lays the biggest challenge: expectation. Whether a class meets, falls short of, or exceeds what you thought you'd get out of it.


Getting started most diver, I believe, come into Open Water thinking, "I'm gonna swim around and take pictures for Instagram and that will be that." Then they're faced with what diving really is (or should be, anyway... there are plenty of operations that allow for simply instagram diving, figuring, "Those people are never going diving again after today anyway, so who cares?").


But as we progress, I find, most folks start to have very high expectations for each class. Figuring someone is going to tell them "The Secret" or "The Answer" and then, finally, they'll be the perfect diver they always wanted to be. And, almost invariably, wind up with a vague sense of disappointment when that's not what happened.


Then, in my experience, it shifts the other way. After having a series of classes that are easily aceable, the committed diver signs up for a class that is, should, even MUST be incredibly challenging. And they get their butts handed to them, surprised by the humbling experience.


Usually it's rewarding. Sometimes there are tears. But almost always, when someone cares quite so much about trying to get good at a thing, they're willing to push hard and challenge themselves... by finding people to challenge them. And when it's important to you it pays off.


Or you can simply float around the same way you always have, having reached a level of comfortable equilibrium for what you find enjoyable. That is 100% allowed, too. You don't have to cry to be a good diver.


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