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Overcome your fear of sharks… through diving

Want to beat that fear of sharks? Get underwater. Go try it! The more time you spend down there, the easier it will get and the faster your irrational fears will dissolve right into the salt water.

“Remember, more people get killed by pigs than by sharks.” These words from my mom were accompanied by a pig-shaped lollipop. And believe it or not, it did make me feel better! And no, I was not five. I was twenty-one, and about to board a plane to the Caribbean, which would be my home for the next two years. Here’s a tip: if you’re moving to a fabulous beach destination, don’t watch “Soul Surfer” and Shark Week right before you go.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t think through my pre-moving TV choices, and imagining dipping even a toe into the ocean sounded like a death wish. I didn’t even want to go be on the beach, for fear a shark might, in a spurt of evolutionary development, grow legs and run up onto the shore!

Maybe you’re afraid of sharks, too, and you’d rather eat toenail clippings than going into the ocean. You know you’re missing out on all the fun you could have… but you just can’t shake your fear of sharks.

If so, I have good news for you. First of all, pigs really do kill more people than sharks do. Secondly, your fear is mostly irrational, and thirdly, you can beat this fear! I know, because I did.

By getting in the ocean.

One of the best ways to beat a fear is by exposure therapy. In other words, plunge right in. I knew this, so I did it. My first dip into the ocean was in a snorkel mask and about seven feet of water. One of the first things I saw was a gigantic barracuda, which sent me screaming and thrashing for the shore. My husband just laughed through his snorkel while the harmless barracuda benignly glided back and forth.

Before long, I learned to appreciate the stern-yet-gentle barracuda along with the fascinating fish and graceful eagle rays. And it wasn’t many weeks before I found myself paddling far out into the ocean on a surfboard—regularly. I was terrified at first, but the more I did it, the less I worried.

I even saw a few sharks while swimming around underwater! They were just little nurse sharks, and they didn’t have the slightest bit of interest in having me for lunch. While there are places where you do have to be very careful of sharks, you don’t have to search too far before you find a great dive spot that doesn’t have dangerous sharks.

Want to beat that fear of sharks? Get underwater. Go try it! The more time you spend down there, the easier it will get and the faster your irrational fears will dissolve right into the salt water. I challenge you to go for it! Go scuba diving! You’ll be so glad you did. Trust me—I know from experience.

Breana

Breana

Breana Johnson is a freelance writer, former Caribbean expat, and masters student at the University of London. She'd rather be under the sea in the Leeward Islands, but for now she's appreciating beach days at Lake Erie.