The smell of sunscreen, the way my skin would feel under the warm sun, the flip flop tan lines; all memories engrained in my mind that developed over the course of my six-year summer lifeguarding job. Every summer from the time I turned sixteen through my college graduation, I lifeguarded a pool on the Air Force Base in my town.
Lifeguarding, to this very day has always held a special place in my life. My heart and much of my history developed and grew during those years. Those years taught me diligence, how to properly dress a wound, how to perform the Heimlich maneuver and CPR, and how to prevent and treat heat distress.
More than the technical and job related skills however, lifeguarding made me realize that possibility, though overwhelming at times, is also inspiring in many ways. I dreamed of future goals during those summers, on that lifeguard stand, while watching people swim. I met people from countries afar, made mistakes, learned valuable life lessons, and was ultimately introduced to the man who endlessly pursued my heart and who I now am fortunate enough to call my husband.
Through all of my initial training and recertification classes thereafter, the methodology and job performance skills that were expected of me became ingrained in my mind and were second nature to me. One skill, explained in an instructional video that I watched, involved lines drawn out in a grid fashion to show prospective and active lifeguards the section of the pool each lifeguard is responsible for.
At the pool I worked at, we typically had two lifeguards on the stand at a time; each of us being responsible for one section of the pool. From the shallow stand, I could not see below the surface of the water in the deeper portion. In the higher stand, there was a light post and glare that on many days, when the sun was at its peak, would not allow me to see one corner of the shallow water.
In many ways, a lifeguard watching their portion of the pool is relatable to some of life’s largest and most challenging struggles. The moments that I sat in the shallow stand I spent focusing on my responsibility at hand. My grid and the division of the pool was in all actuality a gift, enabling me to successfully perform my duty at hand without being overwhelmed and trying to focus on things out of my eyesight, my control.
Throughout our lives, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed if we try to take on too many goals and responsibilities. Our jobs that we are called to perform often come in many forms and shapes. Many times, the process of trying to successfully juggle multiple roles and duties can feel incredibly difficult.
I encourage you dear friend to remember that your duty is not the whole pool, for taking on multiple duties simultaneously is impossible at times.
As a lifeguard, if I would have tried to watch the entire pool at once, certain areas would inevitably be unsafe. Despite my best efforts, I could not successfully see or protect children and adults in the areas I could not see. This does not mean that I was not a good lifeguard, just as the inability to juggle everything does not make us a failure as a caregiver, friend, or family member.
The truth is, as challenging as it may be, accepting and allowing other people around us to help as well as admitting when we can’t “see the entire pool” or do everything at once is okay. In fact, admitting this, accepting that we can only do the very best we can, and enable others in our lives to help, even if it is difficult to admit we need it, allows us to remain successful in the areas we are called to perform in.
Today, I hope you remember to:
From the Author
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