When I meet new people I inevitably wonder 'would I still like this person on a dive boat'? My friends and family will confirm I am desperate to corrupt their children with a desire to see under the surface and recruit as many ocean champions as I can. There are a lot of things I could say to a new diver but I think an advisory about other divers would be at the top of my list. I was not warned about other divers and how to behave around them, the friendships you can’t avoid making and how they will change you. I loved getting the education, however humiliating and hard it may have been at times.
Divers tend to be more open, honest, blunt and move faster in relationships than 'normal' people. You can quickly find yourself being chastised by complete strangers if you are a slow learner but more likely you will find yourself in a rapidly and exponentially growing family of diverse and fabulous people.
It’s inevitable and unavoidable if you keep diving. Whether you are an unapproachable jerk (don't worry that will change) or a socially awkward, nervous wreck, the more time you spend diving, the faster your bad social habits will be broken down, while you find yourself strongly bonded with other divers at a pace that rarely happens in other environments.
You are going to put your trust in at least one of them and they will put their trust in you. By trust, I am referring to your life, not to keep a secret or a lunch date. In less than a few hours you will know enough to love or hate that person.
You will learn to leave vanity/class/your fabulous career (no one cares) at home and will be seen by these people without any props or disguises. You will have to learn other ways to communicate who you are. Most of you will rapidly learn that a good attitude and humility is priceless and some of the only tools available to impress other divers/new friends. Diving is probably going to make you a better version of yourself. Unfortunately it also shines a brighter spotlight on your bad behavior, which I can guarantee will get observed and remarked upon.
You won't continue pretending you don't have certain biological functions, but you will get over feeling uncomfortable with your body. You will feel much more comfortable in your skin once you do and so will everyone else. It's absolutely true that the people you dive with will see you differently than the other people in your life, but they will like you and even love you, despite what they see ;-) At times you will be completely vulnerable in ways most people who stay dry rarely experience. While that is not always fun, its very helpful in making honest friendships.
Most importantly you are going to have profoundly moving experiences under the water with these people. You might suddenly find yourself crying with joy after seeing something others will spend a lifetime seeking a glimpse of. You are not going to forget the people who were with you that day. You may only spend a few hours with them but they will always share that experience with you. More than likely you will be visiting their homes and won't dream of a trip without inviting them. That invitation list will get very, very long.
Unlike most friends I have made traveling, who in many cases I spent months abroad living with, the divers we meet, WE ALWAYS see again...and again and again in many cases :-)) They have become our second family. Every time I get on a dive boat with new people, I know the odds are strong, I am going to discover another 'relative'.
Written by Francesca LaSala