Most often we ask ourselves questions of when, rather than what. We ask ourselves, "When will I get the job; when will I fall in love; when will I pay off my debt?" Subconsciously we fret over the whens as if dreams expire with time, and passions decline with age. This attention to when we learn and not what we learn reinforces the fear that time is scarce. When in fact, time is not scarce; there is a surplus of time.
Yet we govern ourselves to accommodate fear rather than accomplish dreams. Hence, when opportunity presents itself (later than expected), those who ask when don't capitalize on chance. However, for the late bloomers, the opportunity is never too late.
At 18 years old, days before heading to college, I learned how to ride a bike. The experience was empowering. Similarly this year at 20 years old I learned how to swim. This too was empowering. As I became a swimmer, I found that if I take my time, I will always rise to the top no matter when I start.
When I first decided to take swim lessons, admittedly I was anxious. I was excited to finally learn how to swim, but fear still lingered. My coach Darien reassured me that everything would be fine and scheduled my lessons on Wednesday afternoons at 4:30.
The first day of my lessons, true to form I was 20 minutes late. To my surprise, Darien was still there waiting patiently. The grey-painted pool room illuminated from the sunlight, which shined through the 10-ft. windows and reeked of chlorine.
When I approached the pool, I stood on its edge reluctant to jump into the cold waters. Fortunately, the water was both warm and inviting. Everything in that moment felt right. I was learning.
The first couple of lessons were surprisingly difficult. I'd forgotten how challenging being a beginner at something was. I spent each lesson practicing the same routines: repeating leg and arm rotations and rehearsing proper formation.
I remember dreading those routines and wanting them to be over. And yet, despite my protests, I continued to practice. Little by little I was becoming a swimmer.
Becoming a swimmer taught me invaluable lessons. Lessons like going with the flow. When swimming, one has to swim with the current and not against it. Likewise, we must yield ourselves to our dreams and their respective journeys. We must go with the flow of life.
Doing so requires trust. Trusting that we are exactly where we need to be; trusting that we will become who we're destined to be; and trusting that our dreams will become reality. Before I could learn how to swim, I had trust of all three.
Another lesson that I learned is that timing is critical. Timing determines how much effort we must put forth; it determines how we should pursue our dreams; and it determines how we seize the moment.
For me, timing looked like countless hours of leg rotations and breathing exercises until I felt ready to swim. Like being prepared to swim, in regards to one's aspirations one should ask herself, am I prepared for my dreams to become reality? The water is always there for us to swim, but we must put in the time, effort and fortitude to dive in.
Chiefly I learned to not compare my progress to others'. No matter how much I desire to mimic my coach's impressive swimming techniques, I will never be the person that I envy. I can only be me, and the best me at that.
Further comparison is a distraction from the task at hand. As it is difficult to swim while watching others, it is impossible to accomplish dreams when surveilling others' progress.
So what if they started before we did?! Their advantage does not mean we are too old or the chance is too late. Their position in the process reflects their qualification to help us accomplish our dreams.
Life is a swim lesson; we all have to learn. And because it's never late too learn, it is never too late to bloom.