This morning, I went back out for another open water swim. I went with a friend from my triathlon group. She’s open, caring and there is no pressure to perform. With her, I just need to show up and chat about life.
Today I opened up and expressed what I was feeling when I was in the water. In the middle of the swim I stopped and said ” Frig! I swim, then I feel like I’m having a panic attack. I see it coming, then I can’t breathe, then I have to pop up.” Saying those words out loud to somebody who could relate to the feeling was so freeing. Her response was “Oh! Ok. How can I help support you?”. How amazing. The support was just being there to hear my emotions around me being in the water, and what it was unearthing.
I decided that I needed to continue in the water. I told my friend that I found comfort in following her yellow swim float. She said “ok!” and continued to swim with me behind her.
While I followed her, something clicked. My mind was opening up. I realized that my breathing (or lack thereof) in the water was linked to me thinking that my stroke had to be perfect, or that I had to go fast.
I slowed down. I gave myself permission to breathe whenever I needed (instead of demanding it be every 4-6 strokes) and let go a bit. Perfectionism is a bitch to unravel. But when it starts to unravel, holy moly what a weight is lifted off you.
I began to have fun. I did a WHOLE LAP of the pond following my friend and her yellow swim float. I felt like I could swim forever. Yay! “There she is!” I thought. Just swimming, with no pressure (the pressure I put on myself, I mean) was huge. We reach the end and my friend says “do you want to go again?” “YES!” I squeal.
We did another lap and it was lovely. I got to enjoy the rays of sun hitting the water, and to not worry about my form and just worry about me getting enough air. “Let yourself breathe” I think. And I began to.
I have come to realize that enjoying an activity can’t have my perfectionist thoughts attached to it. Perfectionism holds no joy. This was a big breakthrough of a day for me.
In other areas of my life, people around me see my perfectionist tendency. “Go easier on yourself” they say, but it’s hard to do when being a perfectionist is the only way you know how to exist. Today cracked open the door of pure enjoyment in an activity with no results in mind. I hope the door continues to crack open and I can allow myself just to be rather than to perform (in sport, and in many other areas of my life).
A big shout out goes out to Team Triumph and my friend with her yellow swim float. Who knew sport could be so inwardly transformational?