a couple summers ago i was alone in the Fiji Islands getting my scuba certification, in the last dive of the open water certification process there was one last task to be mastered. my scuba instructor and I were under water in the reefs checking it out leisurely before she motioned to me that it was time to “clear my goggles” which means to take the goggle mask off your face and swish it around in the water, putting them back around your head and getting the excess water our before putting the goggles back onto your eyes and nose. I was wearing contacts so I consciously kept my eyes closed as not to fill them with salt water and was kind of anxious for the different steps of clearing my mask, all of the different things that needed to go right in order for me to get the mask back on my face in such a short time. I was aware of how to do it and the mechanics behind it all, it should have been seemingly simple but as soon as I took the mask off my face and was deep in the ocean, far from the surface in complete blackness I forgot what I was doing in the silence and inhaled through the mouthpiece while accidentally letting water in through my nose because the mask was off my face and I wasn’t used to it. I inhaled water straight “down the wrong tube” and began choking and at this point i was experiencing a complete anxiety attack and threw down my mouth piece with my eyes still closed choking in the middle of the ocean. my instructor tried shoving her emergency mouthpiece into my mouth but i didn’t know what was happening and started kicking for the far away surface. I finally opened my eyes, having not breathed for what seemed like forever and was almost to the surface, i could see the sunshine coming through the water, but as i was almost to the surface my oxygen tank was too heavy for my kicking as I wasn’t checking the barometer in my panic state. THIS state of being stuck under water not sure if I were going to drown or if i were going to fill my lungs with salty air again. this is what i’ve felt like the past week. my parents are getting a divorce, i have sub par body image, i am swamped with papers and books and tests, I pushed away the only person who really cares, I want to cry and sleep and watch movies, I can’t go outside without my bones shivering. It’s most likely almost over, I’m most likely going to breathe air again. I made it to the surface that day and she decided to certify me anyways. I had a big dive the next morning. we took a speed boat out to the middle of the ocean where there were white capped waves IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN crashing and the sun was the brightest I’ve ever seen it, and without fear, i fell backwards out of the boat, strapped up in fins and my 80 pound tank and submerged down to the deepest reef and immediately was greeted by a sea turtle, a shark, sting ray, eels, and the whole damn silent piece of earth. I was fascinated and when the forty minute dive was over I came back up to the sunshine and road the speed boat back to the island. I hope I’m almost to the big dive. I need it.