Wednesday, October 27th, 2021

P Shopper Columns


One of my favorite summer pastimes is traveling to the Outer Banks. My brother and I have been swimming in the ocean since we were kids; I have many fond memories of our adventures in the water. Though I don't recall seeing flags on this particular day, the waves were high and came on fast, allowing little time to recover from one before the next was on top of us. When swimming in strong waves, you have two options. The first one is to jump as the wave passes, which allows you to float on top of it. This involves determining whether the wave will break before or after it passes you. The second option is ducking underwater, which allows you to avoid the force of the wave as it crashes, but this also means running the risk of popping back up just as the next wave comes down. As soon as my brother and I waded out that day, we were ducking under waves. They were too large to jump over, and strong enough to sweep us off our feet if we didn't dive beneath them. It wasn't long before we were winded- with no breaks or "lulls" between waves, we couldn't catch our breath. We decided to head in...but after several tiring minutes of fighting the waves to get to shore, I began to realize I wasn't getting any closer.

The oncoming waves were taking advantage of my fatigue. I couldn't make any progress before they were building behind me, sucking the water back out, forcing me to dive under as the wave slammed down. I couldn't breathe- I was surfacing only long enough to gasp for air. I became so tired that I started calling my brother, who had made it much closer to shore. Seeing I needed help, he swam back and took my arm. Rather than ducking under the powerful waves, he kept us above water, letting the water pummel into us, but also letting it push us. Once we were safe, I could look back with clarity and understand I should have done that much sooner. Realizing I was in over my head, I should have taken a different approach- but it's much easier to see that after the fact.

When a situation feels like
more than we can handle,
sometimes it's better to ride the waves
instead of fighting them.

Ever since that day, I've been more careful about the water in which I swim. It's a helpless and terrifying feeling to be caught in something so powerful, something we're unable to get out of. I've never forgotten it. But I also learned from the experience. Instead of being defeated by what threatened to drown us, we used that same force to carry us forward. In every obstacle we face, we have two options: to sink or swim. Hopefully, we're smart about the waters we wade into...but when a situation feels like more than we can handle, sometimes it's better to ride the waves instead of fighting them, whether this means asking for help or changing our approach. This doesn't mean to give up, but rather, to know when to fight and when to save our strength, and to recognize when something we think is drowning us...might actually have the potential to propel us.

Breonna Loxley is an animal care technician at an animal shelter. She is an avid artist, writer, and animal-lover. She lives with her parents, a younger brother, two cats, and one dog.