When I was sixteen, I was a lifeguard during the summer at a neighborhood pool. It was then that I was taught to prevent the things you wanted to avoid by watching with a vigilant eye. Stop the problems before they could happen. Blow your whistle. I knew CPR and how to strap a body to a stretcher and what how to pull someone out of the deep end properly. But I never once used those skills. Never once rescued anyone or jumped in the case of an emergency. Instead, I watched, waiting, daring something to stop out of place so I could stop it. Blow your whistle. Don’t let anything out of your watch, out of your control.
This is an extremely valuable skill as a lifeguard.
It is not as useful in real time, in real life.
You can’t blow your whistle at life and make the things you don’t want to happen around you stop. You can’t always be in control. I’m still learning this lesson-- slowly, painfully, but learning.
Four years out of college and life is nothing like I expected it to be. I’ve found myself in a constant battle between feeling content and caught. Wanting to change everything and settle into a rhythm at the same time. Often I feel like I’m treading water while seasons change around me. I want so badly to know what’s next-- and then to know if that will be “it”-- if I’ll move and buy a house and have a family in another city in another state. Or maybe I’ll stay here-- either way-- I’m watching vigilantly once again. Waiting to knock any unknowns off their course, while simultaneously waiting for something interesting to happen.
You can’t ask for adventure and fun while blowing your whistle at the first sign that you’re losing control. Step back in line. Head back to the shoreline.
The truth is-- I want to get rocked. I want a curveball thrown my way. I want to jump in the deep end of life and prove that I can handle it-- whatever the big, bold, and new is. But I just keep making sure everything is safe, blocking my own chance of adventure.
Maybe you’re doing the same thing. And maybe it’s time to learn that while learning to save others is important, you’re not the world’s lifeguard. You’re not your own lifeguard.
Honestly-- you just might not drown if you dropped the whistle.
And while it’s hard for you-- control loving child that you are-- that chance is worth the risk.