I really did hope I’d stop moaning about the heatwave long before recording this podcast. I now can’t remember a time when I wasn’t uncomfortably warm.
And I resent the fact that I’m now doing the stereotypical Brit thing of talking about the weather, but there IS a reason for it: because, it was the prompt that encouraged me to push this bucketlist Year of Fun activity right up to the past week.
Originally, this was on my list of things to do in this YOF, but I wasn’t expecting to hit the sea until later in the year, when our dear channel gets acceptably warm, having had the summer to heat up.
This week reached all new highs in sweaty-bettyness, and on Thursday afternoon, I finally caved and dug my swimsuit out from the depths of a chest of drawers.
Over the top went some easy to remove clothing, and a pair of slip on trainers for dealing with the stoney beach. I’ve learned that flip flops are NO GOOD when it comes to stones, the blight of the Brighton coast.
I left my phone, headphones, everything I’m normally comfortably distracted by at home, and padded down to the sea (all of 5 mins from my door) with keys wedged in swimsuit and towel on arm.
Even this part felt uncomfortable for me. For so many reasons I imagine, even though rationally I realise this is not something that’s meant to fill someone will anxiety.
For one, I felt semi naked without my backpack and phone and all that. I just didn’t want to bring anything that could be swiped on the shore while I went solo into the sea. I also felt weird doing something I haven’t done in like… 5 years? And even then, that was on holiday – not on a weekday afternoon.
But rational Cat told me to quit whining, it’s a holiday for someone somewhere, you’ve finished your work for the day according to your Asana calendar, and you live 5 minutes away from a sea you haven’t stepped foot in for the 2 years you’ve lived in Brighton.
Oh I should tell you the other reason I was probably quite anxious: I can’t really swim. OK I could swim if my life depended on it – I hope – but I’ve never been a strong swimmer and certainly don’t like being out of my depth.
I have ambitions to get over this story I’m telling myself that I have very dense bones that sink like lead, and that it’s genetic (my entire family are aquatically-challenged) and I guess this is the first step I’ve made in a long time to getting myself a new story.
So I made it. I awkwardly hobbled into the sea, across the cursed pebbles, hat and sunglasses still on because there was no way my face was going anywhere near the surface.
And it was really fucking cold! I had heard it was heating up unusually early this year thanks to the heatwave, but this was like ice water in my opinion.
And I won’t lie: it was… OK. I happily discovered the stones gave way to sand once I was in beyond my waist, and the surreal quality of staring out and seeing nothing but sea and sky around you, bar some annoying kids who were having no problem swimming – well, it was quite fun.
I stayed there, moving my arms around like a weird fitness video from the 80s, until I got bored enough and headed back to land, emerging from the sea like a cross between Ariel in the Little Mermaid, and swamp thing.
After drying off, I headed back to my laptop, enjoying the buzz my nervous system got, and felt slightly less hot and bothered, and a gratifying sense of accomplishment for finally tackling my sea anxiety.
I think if I keep this habit up I’ll find it more fun than fearful, we’ll see.
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