• Stephanie Hammond

Fear! So debilitating

Have you ever been scared? I don’t mean of the boogie man or spiders or snakes - I mean of living, of every day activities, like swimming, or climbing trees, or riding a bike. As a kid I was scared of everything physical, especially of drowning. These stayed with me into adulthood. One day, in my late 20s, we were at a friend’s house for a swim in their new pool. He picked me up and jumped into the pool with me. I vomited - I was so scared! And horrified. I made a commitment then that I was going to overcome that fear. I took swimming lessons, but still couldn't swim. Then one day I had the opportunity to learn to scuba dive. One of the criteria was to be able to swim. I lied, and I did the course. It soon became apparent to the instructors and they stayed close to me, encouraging me and rejoicing with me. I went diving a few times, thoroughly enjoying being in the water, swimming with the fishes. Life took over and the scuba diving stopped. But that experience helped me overcome that fear and I went on to swim fearlessly in the sea, have an underwater experience off the coast of Cairns, as well as feeling relaxed in swimming pools, and participate fully in a dragon boat competition. It was during the latter that I knew my fear was gone. As we rowed back to the Basin in Wellington, a shark accompanied us - swimming parallel with, and about 5 metres from, me. All I could think was what a beautiful creature! I wasn't afraid of it, or of our capsizing, or anything.

Overcoming my fear of drowning also gave me courage to overcome my fear of heights and I went on to climb Mt Beerwah, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, with my daughter, walk on the scaffolding of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, ride in a hot-air balloon, and enjoy the rides at the theme parks.

Now when I feel the fears I smile at myself and know I'll be able to, if not eliminate them, at least live a wonderfully adventurous life in spite of my fears. So well worth it.

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