Sinking Or Swimming
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Sinking Or Swimming

Realizing the Beginning Realities of Adult Life

Sinking Or Swimming

As a 20-year-old sophomore in college, I have come to realize that adult life is like being thrown into the ocean. We are left to our own devices and defenses to survive. Of course, most of us have floaties right now, but each year, each new experience we let go of our lifesavers and find ourselves swimming on our own.

Social media has made it easy for us to observe how those from our past and present attempt to survive. I have watched many of my classmates from elementary school to high school to college go through this transition and it has caused me to realize many things about the age I am in now.

I have watched those I thought were strong swimmers barely be able to tread the waters, or at worst, drown. I see them, the smart ones, the ones who had big goals, motivation, and high potential begin to struggle underneath the waves of peer pressure, lack of purpose, strayed efforts, lethargy, or even just from taking things for granted for so long. Some fall between the cracks of drugs and alcohol and end up not being able to find a way out. Some lose their sense of self and never find it. Some have big goals but end up straying from them. They get lost or distracted by other things and begin to forget the big dreams they once had. Some become just plain lazy. They no longer have the drive to succeed or thrive. Others, take for granted the things in life they were given, and, even worse, the people in their lives who have been by their side to help them through. They stop appreciating them and eventually they begin to lose those they love one by one.

This sounds horribly negative but it’s honestly the brutal truth. I have watched more people than I could guess go through this. People sink. They begin to struggle and don’t have or use the resources they need to survive. Some survive, but can only tread water. They stay static in their lives, simply just trying to survive, not actually prospering. I have watched those I thought could swim ocean to ocean, drown after a mile or two. It’s a cruel realization. One that can definitely change your life.

There are also those who you thought were weak and wondered if they had ever learned how to swim in the first place. These are the people that made you ask yourself, “How will they survive after high school? How will they make it on their own?” But, they are. They’re making it. They keep on swimming, reaching each point and striving for the next goal. Some do it slowly, but some realize quickly how to get their stuff together. I personally have not seen too many people do this from my class but for those who have, I am always so happy to see them succeeding. It’s like watching one of those underdog stories you always see on TV but in reality. You just can’t help but root for them.

Then there are those who get caught in the riptide and drift to other places than they had planned. Some worse, but sometimes better than they imagined. One example I’ve seen are those who end up having kids a year or two out of high school. It wasn’t planned, but they become changed as people from becoming a parent. Some admit that they needed that change and may not have ever found it if it weren’t for their child. Their baby becomes their motivation to keep swimming and they find a way to successfully stay afloat while also taking care of someone else. There are also those I have seen go through the exact same situation but resort back to where they were tredding before. They have this chance to become stronger but choose to sink back under where they were.

Life isn't the shallow kiddie pool anymore. It's deep, complex and more importantly, unpredictable. You will find yourself in situations and places you've never been. You'll meet people who will change your life. You'll begin to experience things you've never experienced, believe in things you never had faith in before, and feel things you never knew could hurt or feel so good. We all go through our fair share of ups and downs. But, it's not about what happens to us. It's about how we react to it, how we let it affect us. Do we let it anchor us down? Or do we use it to our advantage? How do you even take advantage of a difficult situation in our lives? We can realize what went wrong or right. We learn. We grow. We stay not just open minded, but open hearted. We learn when to fight and when to just go with the flow. We learn through it all, that we have to keep pushing on. That is the key difference between those that succeed and those who don’t; those who succeed choose to keep swimming.

This is the vital age of coming into our own. When the floaties come off, it's us against the sea of reality. We are the ones to choose if we sink or swim. It is we who decide if we stay above water or let the world swallow us up.

So are you sinking or swimming? Surviving or living? Treading, drowning, or pushing through?

Through the choppy waves, drifts, whirlpools, even hurricanes, and typhoons, keep going. Don’t tread in the same place too long. Just long enough to catch your breath and regain strength to keep going again.

In the words of my favorite little fish who knows,

“Just keep swimming.”

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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