My first exposure to extreme anxiety was during the summer before fourth grade. I had just started the second level of swimming lessons and I was living in a constant state of panic.
The first level of lessons focused on the swimming basics. We spent the majority of lessons blowing bubbles in the water, kicking on the edge of the pool and playing water-related games – all from the shallow end. The safe end. The fun end. The end of the pool where I could touch the bottom and my head would be above water.
But the second level moved to the deep end. The scary end. The end where the water was way above my head and I lived in constant fear of drowning.
In reality, I should have been fine. I knew how to swim; I had all the tools; I hadn’t used floaties in years; but the deep end still scared me. I knew one day I’d accidentally touch the vent at the bottom of the pool, get stuck and drown.
I begged my mom to let me quit. I made up excuses. I threw fits. I cried. But she still made me go.
But, by the end of the summer I could swim well. I still had a small fear of the deep end, but I knew I could always make it to the side of the pool. I was no Michael Phelps, but if a life or death swimming situation presented itself, I had a good chance of making it out alive.
Graduation is like moving to the deep end of the pool. It’s terrifying, but after four years in college, graduates should have confidence in their abilities and skills. Going into the “real world” and dealing with terms like “mortgage,” “insurance,” and “401K” is scary, but we have to realize the floaties are off, and we have the skills and capabilities to keep our heads above water and make it to the edge of the pool.
It might take a few years in graduate school, at an internship or in an entry-level position different than we imagined, but we can eventually find a job we love. I’m learning in my last college semester, to look past the fear and doubt and believe in the skills and abilities God gave me and ACU molded.
We’re ready to jump into the deep end, even if we don’t want to.