I could tell you were scared.
When you raised your hand and said you’d jump off the diving board, I’m not sure you really thought things through.
Your teacher helped you out of the pool with a few other classmates that decided to brave the diving board. Most of the class, I noticed, stayed behind. The diving board, after all, was in the Deep End. You followed dutifully behind your class to the diving board and got in line.
One of your classmates went first. She marched across the diving board as if she owned it and leaped into the water where your teacher caught her. You were taking this all in, staring intently at your teacher to make sure that yes, she’d catch you.
Another classmate went next. This one was nervous, a small girl who walked across the diving board and paused at the very end. She looked down, swallowed, and backed up as though she had just spotted a monster.
It was at this moment when you let two of your classmates go ahead of you. I think you spotted the hesitation in someone else and that began to doubt your choice.
That nervous classmate climbed off the diving board and got behind you.
“Was it scary?” you asked her.
“Yes,” she answered. “But I’m going to try again.”
I watched you take a deep breath. It was then I knew that you would do it. I could see the determination on your face.
Finally, it was your turn. You climbed up the stairs, gripping the rails. You shuffled across the diving board. It was like a string had been tied around your ankles. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle.
And then you were at the end.
You scratched your leg.
You decided to sit down.
“No, Natalie,” your teacher said kindly as she waited below. “You have to jump.”
I’m not sure if you suddenly decided the end of a diving board was a fantastic place to play tea or what.
You stood up and took another deep breath. You bent your knees.
You did it.
The teacher asked if you wanted to go again. I thought you might say no. But you said yes.
This time, you were ready.
And you walked across the diving board....
...as if you owned it.