Author’s Note: This is a memoir I wrote for English. It is a true story (Hint: It is a memoir). I hope you will enjoy it!
Confidence, integrity, and perseverance are what teachers tell us to have all the time. They tell us to stand firm for what we believe in, and they want us to feel confident about ourselves. What they don’t know is that there are overachievers, people who go above and beyond normal expectations. There are people who may shine with confidence and who can be more stubborn than a mule will ever be.
Yes, overachievers of that sort do exist. I know, and I’m sure, because that description can only be used to describe me.
How wonderful and exciting that must be! I thought, standing waist-deep in the cool water. I will try it after that kid is done.
Looking up at the massive, towering water slide, I traced the swirls and loops of the textured, forest-green surface with my mind, wondering what it would be like to slide down this great masterpiece one time. Just one time.
I had never been on a water slide before, and I was eager to go on one for the first time in my life. It would be a daring task for a six-year-old to undertake, but I knew I could do it.
However, threads of anxiety and doubt nagged at me. I realized that I couldn’t swim underwater. So there was no purpose in going on the water slide unless I was up and ready for a miserable drowning session.
I had also heard many stories about kids drowning because they couldn’t swim, and that added to my accumulating list of worries. Would I be part of the “drowned” list if I went on the water slide? The odds of that were very slim. Besides, would going on a water slide just one time be any harm?
I carefully considered the options. If I didn’t go on the tempting water slide, I would be safe from drowning, but it would be pure torment to sit by and watch other kids enjoy themselves on a thrilling, exciting ride down the water slide.
After looking on as happy kids whooshed down the water slide, I became all but hesitant to go on it. The twists and turns of the slide, the way the kids flew out into the shallow, blue water, laughing as they came up for air – it looked too marvelous to pass by.
Shivering from cold – or nervousness, I couldn’t tell which – I got out of the activity pool and made my way to the water slide. The climb up the stairs seemed endless! Trying hard not to slip on the cold, white, water-slick surface of the metal stairs, I finally stopped at the top, waiting my turn.
As I waited in line, half of me was ready to face the water slide, but the other half was resolute to go back to the activity pool. When someone asked if I was in line for the water slide, I managed to utter a shaky, uncertain yes.
Suddenly, the boy directly in front of me slid down the water slide with a loud shout. Seconds later, we saw him jogging towards the ladder with a grin on his face, getting in line to go again.
This is my moment, I thought. While everyone is still waiting, I can ask to go back to the activity pool.
However, like all the other times I hadn’t spoken up because of shyness, I missed my “perfect moment.” I was left to either go on the slide and drown or embarrass myself in front of everyone by asking to go back to the activity pool. Hmm… Which should it be?
As I stood at the head of the line, my mind went blank. Was I supposed to go? Everyone was watching me, but they didn’t say anything. I looked to the lifeguard for help. She looked at me and nodded her head. It was my turn.
My heart pounded fast, and I tensed with anxiety. Trembling like a leaf in the wind, I watched as the water on the slide crashed and roared, and I felt frightened. No, more than just frightened. Terrified. Deathly terrified. Thoughts raced through my mind. Why am I doing this? I thought. The water is rushing too fast. It will carry me into the water before I can react, and then I will drown. I’m going to ask if I can go back down the stairs or if I can have someone else go before me.
Clearing my throat, I whispered to the lifeguard, “Is it my turn?” Everyone in line was watching me, and some people were muttering words like “hurry” and “go” under their breath.
“Yes, it is. Please hurry up, because you’re holding up the line,” she replied.
I watched the roaring, churning water and hesitated another few seconds, then asked, nervously, “Do I really go now?”
“Yes!” she exclaimed. “Are you going to go, or not? If you aren’t, please go back to the activity pool because we don’t have time for this.”
Taking a deep breath, I knelt down at the mouth of the slide, preparing to sit. Just then, the boy behind me angrily muttered, “Come on, go!”
Upon hearing his remark, I accidentally sat down at the start of the slide. The water rushed and flowed toward the end pool, carrying me with it. I felt like a twig in a river current, trapped and hopeless. I grabbed in vain for the edges of the slide, trying to stop myself, but the force of the water was too strong for me. I had completely no control of how fast I was going, and I didn’t know when the slide would shoot me out into the water.
I closed my eyes tight and braced myself for the anticipated splash into the water. It didn’t come. I waited tensely, holding my breath. It still didn’t come. I had just decided I was in the middle of the water slide when I flew out of it and landed with an unceremonious splash in the water. The shock and suddenness of it all took me completely by surprise, and I did not, or could not, react for a few seconds.
However, the initial surprise didn’t last long. Through all of my body, I could feel that I was slowly sinking to the bottom of the pool. I was three-quarters of the way down when I began to kick my feet and flap my arms in desperate attempts to float back up to the surface. My lungs were burning for air because I had not had enough time to draw a long breath before I flew out of the water slide. How many more seconds would it take me to get back to the surface? Struggling harder, I finally felt myself slowly rising. I kicked even harder, until my head popped up out of the water.
Taking a deep, shuddering breath and opening my eyes, I felt relief and thankfulness flooding over me. I splashed my way to the pool ladder and ran back to the comfort of the activity pool.
As I ran, my waterlogged nose started feeling weird and painful. I hated how it felt, and I swam around in the shallowest part of the pool until the pain receded completely.
That night, I didn’t tell my parents about nearly drowning. I didn’t see the need to. Why worry them? I had learned my lesson, hadn’t I? I had also promised myself to be less overconfident and less stubborn. However, being the person I am, that promise didn’t hold true for very long.
I learned my lesson last time, I thought to myself. I am taller now, and wiser, so I am sure to be fine.
There was no one in line, and there hadn’t been for quite some time. If I were to get on the water slide now, nobody would be watching, I thought.
I had planned every single detail in my mind – how to get on the slide, when to hold my breath, and everything else – so I decided to give it a shot. I was going on the water slide for the second time in my life. I was seven years old.
Okay, so it was a stupid idea to even try. I had not improved my swimming skills since then, or had even thought of doing so, but I firmly believed that my increase in height, age, and knowledge would prevent me from drowning. I was shining with confidence, and I was positive my plan was going to work.
That embarrassing day, I was at a friend’s birthday party. Tired of splashing around in the shallow water, yet too afraid to swim in water above chin level, I spotted the purple water slide and decided to try it when there was no one around.
I climbed up the stairs and sat down on the very edge of the water slide, holding on as hard as I could to it. Checking to make sure that no one was in line after me, I took a deep, long breath, opened my eyes wide, and slid down.
The breath of air I had held soon ran out, and I found myself drawing breath repeatedly. Suddenly, I felt the slide disappearing underneath me, felt myself become airborne, and I saw one glimpse of the blue water before I landed in it.
Splash! I went underwater. My feet touched the bottom, and I frantically began waving my arms and legs. After a lot of flailing and kicking, I floated up, realizing that it was a little easier to come up this time, but not by much. I had still gotten water up my nose, and it felt as awful as it did the first time, if not worse.
Swimming over to the side of the pool to get my hair out of my face, I looked up suddenly to see my friend watching me. She had been calling my name, but I couldn’t hear her while I was underwater.
While laughing, she said, “Mimi, when you were underwater, you looked like a monkey!”
“What do you mean?” I asked in confusion.
“You know,” she said, “like this.” She made monkey-like gestures for me, and I nodded my head slowly and smiled. However, I felt rather humiliated that my friend had just seen my not-too-wonderful underwater show.
She led me back to the activity pool, where we played in the water. Well, she knew how to swim, and I followed her as she darted around like a fish. All the time, I was desperately wishing I could swim the way she did.
Several years later, I have learned how to swim underwater. I would love to get on a water slide, but I can’t get over my fear of drowning.
However, I know that someday my curiosity will get the better of me. While swimming at the pool, I will look up to see people sliding down a water slide, and I will watch as they go down the twists and turns of this magical creation. I will then convince myself to slide down it one time – just one time – the way I did so many years before.