Teaching Scuba Diving Became a Goal After My First Dive
I took my first dive in 2015, but my interest began 15 years prior.
I was sitting in a Career Exploration class in Portage, Indiana. Like most classrooms, the space was uninspiring. Myself, along with thirty other freshman, spent our mornings learning about various career paths, and that's when I first discovered diving.
The concept behind this class was to introduce to us teenage Hoosiers that there was opportunities we could consider besides the local steel mills. The syllabus mostly required us to read books about typical jobs, but every Friday our eyeballs earned a break, and we were visited by a guest speaker. Our mayor spoke, cops, fireman, nurses and other professionals came in and talked for 90 minutes, educating us on what they did, how much they earned, and what they had to accomplish to reach their current level in their profession.
On one Friday mid-semester, an underwater welder visited the class. He worked on oil rings down in the Gulf of Mexico repairing equipment deep underwater. He brought in photo albums to show us his typical work day, plus he lugged in some of his technical gear for us to check out.
During his presentation he told us he made $200,000 annually, and only worked nine months a year. The other three months, he was on vacation exploring the world. Doing the math in my head, his income was 4x what are mayor banked. Immediately, I wanted to be him.
During Q&A I asked him what school he attended, and found out he graduated from a trade school in Canada that specialized in underwater welding, and after school he moved down south.
I was set to become an underwater welder until I got home later that day and told my mom what I wanted to do, and she said no way. Her plan required I attend college and earn a bachelors degree, which I did at Purdue. I became a graphic and landscape designer, and started my own design businesses.
Ironically, having vacation plans go sour, turned out to be a huge, life changing event.
My underwater interest from early high school was put on the back-burner until 15 years later, when I went scuba diving out of a odd circumstance when I was traveling in Egypt. In late 2015, I went to Egypt to visit Cairo, Luxor and Sharm El Sheikh. My trip happened to be scheduled a month after a Russian airliner crashed due to terrorism. My time in Cairo was amazing, and not affected. I touched the pyramids and saw the sphinx, before I flew over to Sharm.
Arriving to Sharm, I realized the airport was vacant. The plane that went down departed from Sharm and crashed minutes later in the desert of the Sinai Peninsula. This event, caused flights to be cancelled and many tourists simply didn't feel comfortable visiting the area.
Arriving to the quiet resort, I quickly discovered all of my scheduled day trips were cancelled. Originally I had plans to fly from Luxor to Sharm, but unfortunately due to the plane crash, occupancy in Sharm was below 10%. My flight to Luxor was grounded, and my day trips around Sharm to snorkel and sight-see were also cancelled.
Meeting with the resort manager, I asked her advice on things to do around the property. Being ignorant, I had no idea the Red Sea is one of the premier diving destinations on the globe. Simply just asking her what I should do when the epic sea is only a few feet from our conversation seems absurd in hindsight, but thankfully she encouraged me to check out scuba diving at their house reef. Since I had an urge to dive years before, I quickly signed up and took my first dive, which you can watch a portion of below.
After my first dive, I was euphoric and awe-struck by the beauty of the ocean life. Even though I panicked twice and had to ascend to the surface with my instructor, I found myself drawn to diving immediately and wanted to start learning and immerse myself into the sport.
Scuba diving to learn more about wildlife and design.
Being an avid learner of wildlife and design, I'm always interested in studying animals, plants, design patterns and systems in nature. I've been watching nature documentaries since being a kid, and as a creative professional, my curiosity about both function and aesthetics is continually evolving.
I discovered while diving, all the details and layers of design that encompass the underwater world. From the patterns of sea life, to how creatures swim and interact with each other, I'm continually being intrigued by the underwater world.
My inner bleeding heart is also affected by diving. As an animal advocate and concerned individual about the current environmental exploitation, seeing first hand harm done to the ocean is a motivator to get off my ass and simply share my knowledge about ocean advocacy and continue to educate myself on the assortment of situations occurring in the deep blue. The more I dive and the more I learn, the level of appreciation I have for the ocean and its awe increases.
The biggest reason I wanted to become a diving instructor was to promote mental health and wellness.
After becoming a PADI Open Water diver, my partner and I started diving every weekend exploring dive sites in Maui. I realized how my mental health was improving after every dive. As I exited the water, I found my mind calm and overall relaxed.
Being self-employed and running a solo design business, I've had highs and lows during each year, where I'm falling in recurring patterns of overworking, burning out or handling various levels of stress. Instead of trying to self-medicate my mental agitations, I found being underwater presses the reset button and focuses my attention entirely at the task at hand. When swimming with turtles, rays and reef sharks, I'm not concerned about managing finances, marketing, running errands or juggling a busy schedule in our current world of distractions. When I'm beneath the surface, I'm on a 60-minute meditation where I'm leaving my headaches behind and simply existing in the present.
Once I realized the mental health benefits of diving, plus my deep interest in nature, design, traveling and environmental welfare aligning with scuba diving, I started making plans to become an instructor, which I completed in early 2017.
Seeing the ocean and learning more about the alien environment and how it is being affected by human behavior and desires, has focused my attention on teaching divers how to be safely explore underwater, while educating them on ocean issues, conservation, and how they can become advocates for diving and ocean wellness. As I continue to learn about ocean life, health benefits of diving, and how we can help preserve the ocean, I'm eager to share my knowledge with others.