Grow a Pair: The Lost Art of Pushing Yourself and Overcoming Your Shark - ITS Tactical

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Grow a Pair: The Lost Art of Pushing Yourself and Overcoming Your Shark

By Jordan Jones

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Cowboying up, opening a can of man, you get the idea. Call it what you will, but there’s a lesson to be learned in enduring the uncomfortable and pushing past your perceived barriers. A few weeks ago, I found myself as the last man standing in a beginner’s Scuba Diving class. It made me think that pushing yourself past your limits is fast becoming a lost art.

A Totally Natural Fear of Sharks

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First a little backstory. I, like many people with common sense and an innate need to stay alive, am afraid of sharks. From their cold lifeless eyes, to their evil tooth-filled grin, they give the impression that they’re happy to be a soulless killing machine. To put it plainly, they give me a solid case of the “heeby jeebies.” Most of us have a “shark” in our lives, but the important thing is not to run away and instead, learn to overcome these obstacles and push past them.

This brought me into the realm of Scuba Diving. Being in the modern Marine Corps, I didn’t see a lot of water; quite the opposite in fact. So the idea of staying underwater longer that it takes to egress (while holding my lucky horseshoe and thinking of petting kittens and rainbows) out of a downed helicopter was a new experience for me.

When considering the idea of learning to dive, I devoured any information I could on the matter. In addition, I spent time in the pool familiarizing myself with challenges I could face in such an environment. Before my first day of Scuba class, I learned to clear my mask underwater, how to swim with fins and also how to conserve energy/oxygen. I wanted to prepare for the class before actually attending.

The SCUBA Class

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My class started a few weeks ago with myself and six other adult men, in a local Scuba training center. As of now, I’m the last one in the class. Not because I’m some genetically-engineered frogman, but more because of my innate feeling to push past fears and mental blocks that we all need to drive us. It doesn’t matter whether it results in failure or success, it’s the effort that counts. If you want to succeed in something, you have to grow a pair and do it. If you never push yourself, you’ll never progress as a person.

The first three students washed out in the classroom before we’d even hit the water. They couldn’t be bothered to watch some videos at home in their free time. Our fourth member quit because he couldn’t get underwater without completely losing his mind. The final two would find themselves overcome by the deep, dark depths of 14 feet. After “surviving the hell of the depths,” aka sitting at the bottom of the pool practicing buddy breathing, the fifth student didn’t show up to the next class. It was now myself and one other student left.

At the next class, myself and the last remaining student arrived at the pool and huddled around our very patient instructor. We had to wait for a group of 6 year old girls practicing synchronized swimming to finish. After an intense round of instruction at the hands of their assumed Girl Scout leader, we gathered our gear and hit the water.

As we began our decent into the murky abyss of the community pool, we hit a snag. The other student was wearing a recently purchased wetsuit which wasn’t weighted down properly to make the descent. He’d attained the much sought after “neutral buoyancy” at a depth of 1 foot below the surface and was waving his arms and legs in an impressive display of interpretive dance.

Our instructor casually rose to the surface and proceeded to add ten pounds or so (none of this metric crap) to the BC of the student (which I later learned was because of the wetsuit and the panicked breaths the student was taking) and sank him to the bottom. After practicing finding and clearing our regulators, we moved onto mask clearings.

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We filled the masks partially and I, in my awesome thought process, decided to lift my mask and allow water in from the bottom. This allowed water to shoot straight up my nose causing some less than fortunate side effects. After pinching my nose and swallowing the super-hydrating pool water, I cleared my mask and gave the okay sign to our instructor.

The focus was then shifted to my final companion, student number six. To his credit, he lifted from the top of his mask and allowed water to partially fill it. At that point, his eyes grew large and he motioned to the surface in a manner that likened him to Bill Paxton’s character in Aliens. “Game Over, Man. Game Over!” He then performed what I later learned from Bryan to be known as the undesirable “Pegasus Missile” maneuver, after hearing a story he told about a BUD/s instructor’s safety brief at the pool.

This maneuver involves over inflating your BC from depth in an emergency and shooting to the surface with dangerous speed before breaching like a blue whale, before plopping back onto the surface and bobbing in the water. After executing this maneuver, the student simply got out, packed his things and quickly departed before anyone could even make sure he was alright.

I started this hobby because I wanted to face my fear and swim with sharks. You just have to put in the effort. Whatever your “shark” is, don’t let those evil, cold-eyed sons of bitches get you to fail. Too many people these days hit a wall and decide that it’s too much and they can’t take it. Work past your fears, grow a pair and keep going.

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Please join us in welcoming the newest member of the ITS Crew, Jordan Jones as a Contributor on ITS. During his time in the Marine Corps, Jordan deployed overseas for 3 years and has experience as a member of FAST, PSD and FMTU teams. These days, he spends his time roaming around the ITS warehouse, packing and shipping customer orders. Jordan enjoys working out, shooting, bushcraft and Kali. He likes staying active and visiting with friends, family and his lovely lady.

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Discussion

  • Robert Simpson

    Even pushing yourself TO your limit is “frightening” for of a lot of these people.

    • Canadian LoneWolf

      … in many cases, so is the unknown. It’s a mind over matter thing, my CO always said, “convert that fear to persevere.”

  • David Selby

    Great article. Looking forward to more from him.

  • Matt Berry

    I feel unsafe now, you can’t expose me to these ideas without a trigger warning.

    • Robert Simpson

      I am, by the way, assuming you are being sarcastic.

  • Michael Ricker

    Tim Reese add to drive

  • Canadian LoneWolf

    Welcome to ITS Jordan, and nice article. In some ways confronting my “shark” is a big reason I moved to the wilderness, not so much the fear aspect, as I don’t fear the bush, I respect it, but more the challange. As you said, pushing past perceived barriers, it is the only way to truly grow. I dropped everything to move miles into the eastern mountains, no power, no water, nothing but my dogs. It’s been nearly 3 years now, and I’m not going anywhere. Mother nature can throw all the barriers at me she wishes (she’s off to a good start) and I will do everything I can to push past. I’ve had run-ins with bear, cougar, even a bull moose in the rutt. Thankfully I’m not one to panic, and I am always prepared, mentally and physically. In each case I stood my ground and confronted yet another “shark”.
    Welcome again Jordan, and Cheers.

    • Jordan Jones

      Canadian LoneWolf, Thanks for the Welcome, and your story as well.

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