Yes, it really happened. My biggest fear has been sharks for as long as I can remember, and as the most notorious of the species, Great Whites were always at the pinnacle. To give you an idea of how bad it used to be, I wouldn’t even step into the icy Atlantic waters of England for fear of a shark encounter, so as for jumping off the side of a boat on holiday – you could forget it!

But that all changed on Saturday 16th March 2019. My fiancé and I left our beachside apartment in Pringle Bay at 5am to drive to Gansbaai, which is a shark diving hub 2 hours south of Cape Town. We spent the best part of the day on a shark diving trip which included safety talks, changing into our diving gear, and then going on the dive itself. For me personally, it was a life-changing experience and these are the most profound lessons that I learned.

You are stronger than you know…

Our fears can feel insurmountable and more terrifying than we can handle, which is what makes them so severely limiting. However, when the time calls for it, we’ll find that we are actually able to face our fears. We all have an inner superwoman or superman just waiting to come out and seize the day. We are powerful beyond our own self-imposed limits, and our impact will reach as far as our minds will allow us to. Whatever you want to achieve is truly possible if you believe in your own ability to overcome any obstacle.

You must go against the status quo in order to grow…

If you do the same thing as everyone else then you will get the same results. We’ve all heard the saying that we’re the average of the 5 people we spend most of our time with, so if you’re not closely acquainted with people who are regularly challenging themselves and breaking their own boundaries, then you’re not going to be inspired to outgrow your own boundaries either. Staying within our limits is comfortable, and they get more and more comfortable over time.

But, if you want atypical results, you need to do atypical things and make a conscious effort to go against the crowd. Be ready for a lot of questions and concerned looks when you start to do this because you’re no longer staying within the norm, which means that people won’t understand you or your choices. I think of this as a good sign that I’m on the right path though because I never want to have the same life as those who are questioning my choices anyway. So, if you’re raising the eyebrows of people who are still afraid of what you’re trying to overcome – then, good job – you are going against the status quo!

Fears are only as big as we allow them to be…

When our fears aren’t faced, they can grow to gargantuan proportions and slip out of our control. If we aren’t in control of our fears, they will control us. The only way to diminish a fear is to see it in real life, and then you’ll be able to put it into perspective. When we get all of our information from films, the news, and folklore horror stories, it’s so easy for our fears to spiral out of proportion. They’ll quickly become far removed from the reality of the situation, and the perceived threat factor will get distorted in our minds. If we don’t start to take control of our fears, they will soon take control of us.

🦈  Great Whites are misunderstood!  🦈 

OK, this point is less about us humans and more about the sharks in particular. But from spending a day with them, I can truly see why people say that Great Whites are a misunderstood species. As I have heard people say before (but never truly believed), they really are peaceful, graceful, and not at all interested in humans. There were 4 sharks circling around 8 of us humans in a flimsy cage underwater, and yet, all they were interested in was the small fish being thrown off the boat! Even then, they would swim up to the surface and tentatively nibble the fish first rather than swooping up for a full-powered attack as you would expect from the films. I now see why people say that when a shark does bite a human, it’s usually a mistake because they’ve nibbled them out of curiosity.

If you’re afraid of sharks, then I would highly recommend going on a dive as it’s a life-changing experience that reconnects you with your own power and puts your fear back into perspective. But whatever fears you have, I have total faith that you’re strong and capable enough to overcome them and amaze yourself by doing so.

As soon as we stepped out of the shark cage and onto the boat, I turned to my fiancé and said “right, now we need to go sky diving” to conquer my other great fear – heights! We plan to do this on our trip to Australia within the next year, so stay tuned for an update…