You know that “If you really knew me” game? Anytime someone asks me for my answer, I always reply with, “I LOVE swimming.” That’s not even putting it lightly. Literally, I live and breathe water. I’m pretty much like Ariel (well, before she wanted fins, anyway). Or maybe a fish is a better comparison.
Anyways, the last time I gave up swimming for an extended period of time was last year, from mid-February to mid-June, because my doctor told me I couldn’t lose more weight (I was 92 pounds because I lost so much weight from gastritis).
However, ever since my doctor gave me the okay last summer, I’ve pretty much swum two hours a day because I missed swimming so much. I’m training for open water events, but swimming is also my stress and anxiety reliever. Plus, it helps calm my hyperactive mind down because I have ADHD.
What I’m about to write might shock those of you who know me well: I’ve nearly given up swimming for the last month––and here’s why. First, when I switched departments here at camp, it made me miss lifeguarding more. Second, in light of that painful situation, I realized I primarily sought peace in swimming. Yes, I did trust God for peace––but after swimming. I thought that slicing my arms through the water would always help me feel better.
Before all the hard stuff I dealt with last month, I worked my way up to swimming two or three times a day––which isn’t bad if you’re an Olympic swimmer. Although I’ve been training for a while, I’m not one of them, and I’m working eight hours a day. I also haven’t slept well lately, so I’m even more tired than the average person.
Over the past month, I’ve swum probably two hours a week––a dramatic contrast. How has that affected my life?
It’s been hard, but it’s also been beneficial.
At first, I became anxious about the fact that I wasn’t swimming––I didn’t want to backtrack in my training, and I didn’t want to become anxious because I wasn’t swimming. After the second week, however, I noticed a change. I actually enjoyed my swim time instead of pushing through muscle fatigue. I started valuing downtime and rest more. If I didn’t feel like getting up to swim a certain day, I just slept later that morning. I made time for activities that bring me joy that aren’t physically tiring: painting and playing music. I made more time for friends instead of hogging it for my swimming time. Sadly, I would do that: put swimming before relationships.
If you’ve kept up with my writing, you know my three words for this year are rest, revitalization, and relationships. By giving up swimming, I realized I needed more emotional rest and time for relationships. Furthermore, I have grown as a person because I realized I need to trust God for peace instead of trying to find it myself.
Within the last week or so, my mind has felt quieter––which isn’t too common for an introvert with ADHD and anxiety. I’ve felt less anxious, and I’ve smiled! Literally, people in the dining hall and my coworkers constantly tell me that my smile brightens their day. I’ve finally found peace, and I’ll cling to it.
Will I return to the hard training regimen I’ve adopted for the past year? Yes and no. I’ll still swim every day, but I won’t push my limits. I’ll stick to a training schedule, but I won’t swim extra on hard days. Instead, I’ll pick up a journal, process by myself (see picture below) and with friends, and spend time with the Lord.