Today I had to do a swim test as a prerequisite for an upcoming ice water rescue course that I’m doing this weekend. The test consisted of treading water for 15 minutes and swimming 100m with a PFD on. It wasn’t the actual test that bothered me so much as the going out without a stitch of makeup on and getting into a swimsuit in the middle of winter, and not with my family, which would’ve at least made it bearable just for the fact that it’s spending time with the family, and that makes everything worth it. Since this test is part of a training course offered through the volunteer fire department that I’m on, the lead instructor was there, an officer from my department, and a fellow firefighter from my station (who was also doing the test) were all there too.
As a woman, if there’s ever a time that insecurities are going to come out, being in a bathing suit will do it to ya. I’m sure there are women out there that are extremely self confident and have no problem whatsoever in a bathing suit, summer or winter. I just don’t know any personally. And even though I get on my treadmill regularly and do weights often, I battle my own long standing insecurities any time I think of putting on a bathing suit. At least in the summer, one has the benefit of a tan to hide such imperfections and make one feel much better about themselves, in my experience anyway.
As for the lack of makeup…don’t get me wrong. I’m not obsessed with my looks ( I believe them to be average), and I don’t spend tons of money on the latest and greatest beauty products ($5 mascara, $7 eyeliner and a little foundation here and there to cover the red spots and/or bags under my eyes…priceless.) I’m not sure if it’s an age thing or a stress thing but my skin definitely seems to be less than radiant most days, so if a little makeup here and there makes me feel better, so be it. However, you do not wear makeup in the pool, it’s just not an option, so bare faced I went. Oh how I wish my “bare faced” was as fresh and clean and bright looking as the “bare faced” models in magazines…hahaha. Okay, back to the real world. (I suppose there is water proof makeup out there that may do the trick, but that definitely seems like going over board to “save face”.
Makeup and body issues aside, I passed the test. I was glad I passed it, but not surprised. I had always been a strong swimmer when I was younger so I figured I could handle it, even if I don’t swim very often these days.
The greatest victory for me today was not in passing the swim test, it was in testing myself and passing that I felt a victory had been won. I honestly didn’t care about how my body looked in the swim suit when I was at the pool (I felt good on the inside and that’s what mattered), and I wasn’t concerned with how I looked without makeup (did it really matter, after all?). I was also proud of myself for even doing the test and keeping up with the 20 something year old fellow firefighter that just happens to be training to become a full time firefighter and therefore is in extremely good shape. As a 40 year old mother of two, having the self confidence and self esteem to do the things you fear is hugely important to me so that I can be a good role model for my daughters.
I don’t always feel as confident as I do at this particular moment in time, but I’m hoping that the more that I push myself beyond of my comfort zone and face my fears, the more my self confidence will grow, and someday become the norm. Fun Fearless Female. That’s what I’m going for. 40’s not too late is it???
If you have that strong sense of self, nothing can stop you. That’s what I want for my girls….and for myself!
I'm a Certified Body Language Trainer and Speaker, columnist for Canadian Firefighter magazine and self publish author. I've combined my love of personal development with my passion for the fire service and I teach fire service members across Canada about the power of body language.