Who are you? Will you look at yourself differently when you see yourself breathing underwater? Does your sense of who you are change when you become a scuba diver?
You will have different parts and ways of being in different situations. As you watch yourself in life, you create a set of ideas about who you are. We call this set of ideas the “self” and it is formed out of your perceptions of what you have been so far in life. But we are always gaining new experiences, and that means your self can change!
You can change through challenge
Humans develop through effort and rising to challenges. Diving is fundamentally challenging because it means existing in an environment where we cannot normally breathe! As an oxygen-dependent creature, there is probably not a more challenging environment you can enter. Yet, enticed by the call of the deep or brilliant coral fantasies you may find yourself motivated to learn.
Gathering skills in scuba diving frequently involves stepping through some personal barrier. Sometimes just walking through the door of a dive centre feels like entering another person’s realm. Removing your mask for the first time can often feel like a leap of faith. But then you realise you can do it! These small acts of courage can shift your whole world.
Connect with different people and see other options
Being a diver is an opening for connecting with other divers. It may not matter that the people on the boat with you come from a completely different walk of life, because you all have something in common. Relaxing with people from different countries, cultures or professions exposes you to ideas and experiences you may not otherwise have encountered. And it can be more than just interesting, because connecting with real people can change what you think is possible in life.
Experience the world
Before becoming a diver, you probably had some ideas about the world, and the ways you could be within it. All that can change in an instant when you break the barrier between air and water! It might feel like you just dived into another dimension … except it is real, and you are really in it! To see yourself adapting to this alien world can change how you think of yourself. Maybe you will discover a new version.
Go beneath the surface. Find out who you could be.
Dr Laura Walton is a Clinical Psychologist and PADI IDC Staff Instructor with a fascination for the psychology of diving. Visit scubapsyche to learn more about our behaviour as divers.