Taking Your First Step


Picture this…

You’re eight years old again, and you’re back at the local pool taking swimming lessons. The hot summer’s sun is beating down on you as you wait for the arrival of your swimming teacher on the side of the pool with the rest of the beginners. You take your forearm and wipe away the beads of sweat dripping down your face as you watch the big kids starting to do their laps under the guidance of their swim instructor. As you look on with awe, you think to yourself, “One day that will be me out there. One day I’ll be able to swim just like that.” As you take one more glance at the seamless backstrokes of the advanced swimmers, you see your swimming teacher approaching from the left side.

“Good Afternoon class,” she says after she takes her place at the front of the line.

“Good Afternoon,” you reply in unison with the rest of your swimming mates.

“Time to get in the water,” she answers back as she claps her hands together and turns to walk to the shallow end of the pool.

After your instructor is in the water, you all file in one at a time, while grabbing a blue kickboard as you descend into the cooling water.

Once you’re all in the pool, your instructor shouts, “Alright everyone we’re going to practice our flutter kicks first.”

Taking your board you fall into line behind the rest of the kids in your class and kick as hard as you can going up the right side of the lane, and then once you reach the other end of the pool, you turn around and repeat the same flutter kick until you get back to where you started.

As the last of your peers flutter to a stop, your instructor indicates that you will now practice the arm motions and breathing techniques used for the freestyle stroke. You know exactly what to do since you have practiced this at all of your other lessons, so once you’re lined up on the right side of the pool again, you take a deep breath and put your face in the water. As you open your eyes under the water you feel a sharp, but manageable sting run across your eyes as you scan the bottom of the pool and see your wiggling toes beneath you. After of a few seconds, your eyes adjust to the burning sensation, and you start to bring your right arm forward first, and then as your right arm goes back into its original place, your left arm comes forward, and then your right arm again and after you bring your right arm back once more, you turn your head to the right and take a deep breath. You repeat this over and over again until you hear your instructor telling you to stop a few more rotations later.

As you wipe the remaining drops of water away from your face, your teacher informs you that next everyone will be attempting to put the kicks, breathing, and arm motions together in order to swim the freestyle stroke.

The moment those words leave her mouth, you feel your heart start to slam against your chest. You’re nervous because you’re the only one of your friends who hasn’t managed to swim without the help of your instructor yet. Watching anxiously, you wait for your turn as you see each one of your swimming pals put all of three of the techniques together to do the freestyle. As each of your friends files back into line with Cheshire Cat-like grins plastered from ear to ear, you wonder if today’s going to finally be the day that you swim by yourself.

As you take another step forward you realize that there is only one more person in front of you before you’ll have to go. You take a few deep breaths in and out to calm yourself, and you glance once again to the part of the pool where the advanced swimmers swim. As you watch their graceful moves, you remember the promise that you made to yourself before the start of the lesson. “One day that will be me out there. One day I’ll be able to swim just like that.”  Remembering these two simple sentences gives you the courage that you need to get out there and swim. You want to be like them one day, but you realize that you have to take this first step before you can start to swim like the big kids. Determined, you take a step forward as you hear your instructor call your name.

Taking a deep breath once more, you lie on your stomach and prepare to put together everything that you’ve learned that will help you to swim freestyle. You can feel your teacher’s hands holding you up, but as you start to kick and move your arms, the touch from your instructor becomes lighter and lighter until you don’t feel her hands underneath you at all. You realize that you’re doing it! You’re actually swimming, and you keep on kicking and moving until you can’t kick and move anymore.

As you stand back up at the end of your turn you hear the excited congratulatory hooting and hollering from your friends and instructor. Pure joy and elation are pulsing through your veins right now, and you feel better than you’ve ever felt before. As you walk towards the end of the line with the chorus of cheers ringing in your ears you feel a smile that mirrored the smile of your swim mates spread across your face, and you realize that you’re just one step closer to your dream of swimming with the big kids.

Positive thinker, in life, you’re going to have many first steps. Anytime you want to do something new, you have to take your first step before you can reach the end of that new adventure. You can’t expect to get to the finish line by just taking one step. Reaching that end takes hundreds, thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of steps, and each step is just as important as the last. Without the first step, you couldn’t get to the second step, and without the second you couldn’t get to the third, so recognize the importance of the process, and realize that the journey it takes to get to the end can be just as exciting as finally reaching the finish line.

Tackling something new can be very intimidating, but you have to find the courage to take the first step. You don’t just wake up one morning knowing how to walk or swim, and you’re not going to wake up one morning having achieved your life long dream if you haven’t taken that first step first. Doing something new takes time and patience, but if it’s something that you really want then taking that first step can give you just what you need to start living the life that you’ve always wanted to live.

So close your eyes, breathe in and out, and relish in taking that first step.

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