Issue 29 – The Reluctant Grownup

by Vincy Ng (ELED Year 1 student 2020-2021)

A scar is more than just a patch when there is always a meaning underneath, which would accompany you for the rest of your life.

The boat was slightly swaying in the center of the sea under the sun. It was boiling but my sweats were cold. I was a bundle of nerves bound up by my tight snorkeling suit. I looked down at the sea, the crystal-clear water reflected the sunlight, which appeared to be like countless glass debris on the ground. I was unconsciously touching the scar on my left knee. It was a 7 cm long lumpy patch on my skin. My limbs were trembling as if every cell in my muscles was warning me not to jump into the debris.

“It is once-in-a-lifetime snorkeling in Hurghada, come on, Vincy!”, water splashed after my brother plunged into the sea, he was bright and charming.

“Come on Vincy, be brave!”

“Time is running, get in, and have fun!”

The cheer was a strong force, leaving me no way out but pulling me down to the sea. I hesitantly jumped into the sea with my nose held tightly.

At that instant, I jumped into my painful and horrible memory. I felt like I was drowning, like that time when I was seven. Water rushed into my lung, leaving no room for a breath of fresh air. The only thing I could feel is the fear inside my blood, from my deep body. My limbs were on strings, anxiety ruthlessly manipulated my muscle contraction, causing my limbs to struggle vigorously. My left knee slammed the rocky curb nearby. I felt the warmth from my bleeding, and then extremely severe pain. I tried hard to hold my consciousness and grasped the life jacket. I could barely hear my friends’ shout, but their voice faded away immediately. I was like a dying empty can sinking in water, down into the seafloor, leaving the beautiful world.

There was a strong force holding me up, pulling me out from the dreadful past. I felt a bit of the air. Thank god I was alive. I managed to stand in the water, my brother grabbed my ice-cold hand, gradually leading me down to the ocean. My heart kept racing, as if it was a boom in the water ready to explode, to spill out the anxiety and fear inside.

“Please, take me back onto the boat”, “I couldn’t make it” my heart cried sorrowfully.

Sometimes there is no time for regret in reality. You have no choice but to bite the bullet.

I was diving into the water, leaving plenty of colorful corals and fish behind in every move pitilessly. I was fed up with the torture and reluctant to carry on. I was pushed backward fiercely by waves. Slowly falling behind, I started to lose control of my body again.

“You are eighteen years old now, it’s time to get rid of the past trauma.” “No, you can’t make it” “Relax your body.” “You’ll die, just leave it, your coach will bring you back to the boat”, the inner angel and devil started to fight. I was at my wit’s end, sinking in the middle of the sea. I gazed at the surging waves. It was rising, moving forward, and splashing away, like the way time passed by in my 18 years of life.

“Think about the day when you were a kindergarten student, you panicked about school. You burst into tears and waved at mum but refused to go into the classroom. Think about the day when you were a primary school student, you were frightened to meet new faces. You timidly introduce yourself in front of the class with your heart racing. Think about the day when you were a secondary school student, you were overwhelmed by the public exams. You shouldered a strenuous workload and stressed out. Think about this moment, you are an adult who is not afraid of school and making new friends anymore, and you survived lots of exams,” my inner angel shouted out loud, and it struck me.

Right. That’s how life works. No matter how reluctant and insecure you are to take new challenges, you get to grit your teeth and take them. It is not you to decide your fate, but sometimes, fate pushes you to confront new things.

I confronted the ocean with my eyes wide open. The crabs were walking, the starfish were bouncing, and the scallops were clapping. No matter how slight and slow they move, they exert themselves to grow, to propel, to emerge from their protection. The tiny newborn fish stretched their head to look around, couldn’t wait to grow up, while the mothers were staying by their side, silently protecting them. I was like a tiny Nemo exploring in a vast ocean. My body relaxed and was immersed in the stunning brand-new ocean world, where there was no stress and anxiety.

Leaving the underground utopia, I got onto the boat, with my body still feeling swaying and freezing. Blood was dripping on the staircase of the boat – my leg was bleeding. I was scraped by coral. My snorkeling coach immediately bandaged my wound. It was painful, like thousands of needles pinning on my skin. Yet, I was so content and grateful, I looked around the beautiful beach in Hurghada. There were kids learning to swim, parents patiently teaching teens to fish. Children were running around, and some fought with others while building the sandcastles. The world is so big where it awaits our growth and exploration.

Conquering fear is dreadful and painful which you wanted to quit so badly until you get the courage to embrace and take the challenges. Perhaps that is growth in life.

I gazed at my leg, sadly there are two scars now. One that marks my past fear, and now, there’s one which marks my growth – the reluctant growth in my 18 years of age.

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