In 2007 I took a PADI Open Water Diver course in the warm Andaman Sea in Thailand. Ricardo and I had decided to do this together but, for health reasons, he was not able to. Not wanting to miss out on any opportunity, I continued without him.
We spent the first few days in the swimming pool, learning to use the gear. It was fascinating and exciting to be underwater for longer than 4 seconds, especially for a glasses wearer like me who is usually completely blind in the swimming pool. The tank didn’t feel too heavy on my back, I could use the regulator properly and I was all amped for the open water.
The Open Water dive was scheduled for the last day and we woke up early to get out into the water before the crowds. On the boat, we put on our wetsuits, suited up, checked our dive buddy’s equipment and went over all the hand signals we’d need once underwater.
I don’t like heights, so jumping off the boat into the water (only a meter or so height) took me longer than usual, but I was in and ready. I took a deep breath, gave the OK sign and started my descent. No more than a meter down, I suddenly started thinking. Yep, that was my problem, I started thinking. Thinking what in the world am I doing under the water. It’s not normal for humans to breath underwater. What if something goes wrong and I can’t get to the top. What if I get lost in the vast waters. And I started hyperventilating. You know, that crazy woman ventilating, when panic sets in and you disrupt the even flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide by exhaling more than inhaling. Kind of like what happened to me on the school stage back in 1994, but that’s another story.
My amazing teacher and guide, whose name I don’t remember, took my hand, looked me straight in the eyes and indicated to me to slow down my breathing. I knew that if I couldn’t do it, he would gently guide me back to the top and then he’d have to return to the other students, I would have to return to the boat, and that would be the end of my Open Water scuba.
So I closed my eyes, and focused my thoughts to what I knew to be true. I can do this! I’ve trained for it. Millions of others have done the same and been successful. Stop thinking about what can go wrong and just enjoy every minute.
And that was all I needed. I had the most amazing time and can proudly say that I have my PADI licence.
That feeling of panic though, is one I recognized in myself the other day. I’m working on a new project and it’s going to be huge! Yes, I mean huge like everyone will know about it, but more than that, I mean huge like it will have a huge positive impact on the world, right now, AND in the future. It’s hard to explain the power of thought in one conversation and takes years of continuous encouragement and reminders, but the world will benefit from more Dream Casters. We need Dream Caster politicians and Dream Caster policemen. We need Dream Caster business owners and leaders. We need Dream Caster farmers and entrepreneurs. Where, regardless of occupation, people know and understand the power they have to create the future of their dreams and value the same in others.
So, I’ve been working on this project for almost 6 months and it’s almost ready for launch. In fact we receive our first product sample next week. Suddenly, on a random day last week, I suddenly stopped and thought: What the hell are you doing? What if this is a complete failure? How can you think you can make a difference in the world? You’re just a little colored girl from a small town in the middle of South Africa, who never fitted in. Not white enough, not black enough, not cool enough, too shy, too weird, too aloof. Do you even know what it takes to be successful at this? You have no degree in child education, you don’t have the connections that others have, and you’re uncomfortable in front of the camera. And I started hyperventilating.
This time, only for a couple of seconds. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and focused my thoughts on what I knew to be true. I AM Michele Collison. I’m raising 2 amazing kiddos, ran a marathon, jumped out of a airplane (skydiving), I lived in 5 countries across 3 continents, I am living the life I want, and yet I still have doubts. And I have the audacity to believe that I can change the world. I am doing so with every small step I take to help others realize the power of their thoughts. I can do this. I’ve prepared for this. Stop thinking about what can go wrong and just enjoy every minute.
So here I am, starting my journey with you. To encourage you to dream anything you want to dream and create the future you want to have.