In my life, the major athletic activity I found myself saliently passionate about (apart from kabaddi, hiking, rock climbing and other outdoorsy things) is swimming. I have loved the water as long as I can remember, and something about the solitary and meditative aspect of the act of swimming lanes it is particularly appealing to me as an introvert.
I like swimming because it lets me concentrate on the minutiae of my body’s movements and allows me to compete against my personal best. It allows me to hone in on and understand how various muscle groups in my body coordinate themselves to not simply keep me afloat, but transport my physical being in the water at desired speeds and directions.
After a few months’ hiatus, I have found myself swimming again.
Initially, I was rusty. I would get tired only after having swam a few laps. I would need to rest for quite a few minutes before I could go on again. This was embarrassing – I completed the Bronze Cross as a teenager, which required me to swim far greater lengths without stopping.
Nonetheless, I continued to swim for the sheer pleasure of it. I strived to improve my own strokes, speed and stamina. It’s a sport where I compete with no one but myself and at least, when it comes to solitary lane swims, the only perception of the other people that I must take into account is when I try not to crash into someone else while they are completing their laps.
In this kind of solipsistic exercise, I realized that I should take life (or rather, how and when I achieve certain professional and academic milestones) as I approach swimming. I should concentrate on my strengths and weaknesses and strive to improve my abilities as a student, a researcher, a writer and whatever else I seek to become, and not feel overwhelmed by the successes of others, especially if I have not reached the same goals as they did when they were my age.
This is a roundabout way of explaining as well as allaying my own anxieties about my upcoming masters program. Often I have wished that I had a clearer idea of my professional interests earlier in life, and that I had sought out the appropriate guidance to direct my educational course accordingly. This is, of course, inane anxiety, for a person who is barely two years out of her undergraduate program. Nonetheless, the allegory of swimming lanes helps me keep going, as I slowly learn how to swim in my own lane, and not pay too much heed to those in the other ones.