Going into my Divemaster course I was fully prepared to increase my diving knowledge and prowess. I knew I’d be spending my days learning about the physics of diving, how to look after students and even all about the gear we use.
What I didn’t expect was to gain just as much knowledge about non-diving matters.
I suppose it makes sense really. At University I learned a lot more about things like politics, theatre and how to drink all night without dying than I did about my course. Although that may have had something to do with my 23% attendance rate and the fact that I spent 25 hours a week running the largest society on campus (big up my LUTG pals).
So here you go friends, all the things I learned during my Divemaster course that have nothing whatsoever to do with diving!
Trust me on this, it’s really difficult to keep a smile on your face when you have to teach someone the same thing 475769290 times. Teaching enthusiastic and engaged students is incredibly rewarding, but teaching the guy who would much rather we just skipped the theory and jumped right in without any prior knowledge is trying. Learning to take a deep breath, smile and try again was a life skill more valuable than any bit of the diving theory I crammed inside my brain.
Now you’d assume that spending my days among fit, tanned dive instructors – not to mention living with my absolute babestation of a yoga instructor friend – would make me weep into my size 16 bikini bottoms every night. But no, not so much. Despite my slightly squishy midriff being on show daily I didn’t make any small children cry or any bystanders throw up. Plus I realised how much my body can do and what it can cope with. Yes I can carry those 12 litre metal tanks off the boat, yes I can lift that dive equipment onto your back, yes I can use body language underwater to calm you down.
We need to look after the environment
I’ve always been vaguely environmental, in the way that most middle class western people are. Sure I’ll try to recycle all the time and keep bags for life in the car, but I also really enjoyed putting my aircon on 20 degrees and I’d grab single use plastic bottles all the time. After seeing the effects that plastic and packaging have on the ocean on a daily basis I became a little…obsessed. Straws, bags and bottles could be seen everywhere and our weekly beach clean ups filled my heart with as much horror as we filled our bags with polystyrene. Once plastic is created it lasts literally forever and I’m trying to work out how I can drastically reduce my plastic use in the near future. Baby steps.
From what I’ve gathered from every other dive professional I’ve spoken to, there is going to be at least one instructor that you don’t see eye to eye with. There will also probably be another DM who really gets on your tits in some way, big or small. Unfortunately you’re representing the dive centre on your DM course and therefore you’re going to have to learn to deal with people you don’t get on with rather than throwing a strop or screaming at them. This is especially difficult because most of the time you’re interacting in front of customers, meaning that choosing your words carefully and diplomatically becomes key.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am terrible when it comes to being on time and getting things done. You know that friend who gets told a time 30minutes earlier than when you need to meet just so they show up on time? Yup, that’s me. My Dad taught me the word ‘procrastinate’ aged 7 1/2. But when you’ve got a dive boat leaving at a specific time and four students to round up, gear up and sort out you have to have a plan and stick to it. I genuinely noticed a huge improvement in my time management ability, although whether that’s more to do with the fact that Gili Air for sure runs on island time we’ll never know.
I wasn’t sure how to word this last one, but basically I’ve realised that I need to stop measuring myself against ridiculous standards. Classic overachiever syndrome right here ladies and gentlemen! This isn’t the first time I’ve moaned about this, but as I’ve got a real thing about people complaining about things they can change I’ve tried to make a concerted effort to rein in the crazy pressure I can sometimes put on myself. It’s okay if I don’t get something right the first time around, or it takes a little time for me to perfect it. As I start my diving career it’s something I’m hoping to remind myself of on a daily basis.
The Importance of Personal Relationships
Without a doubt the single best thing about doing my DM course was getting to spend time with my two favourite Canadians Dave and Becki. As much as I love Mikey and spending time with him, it made me realise how much I missed having pure friend time with people. Before we went away I seriously neglected my friendships in Cairns because I was trying to save money and was too lazy to make non-pub plans. Ditto family relationships. After spending time with my Mum I realised that I’ll bury my head in the sand so I don’t have to deal with difficult topics, and that’s not a good thing. New years resolution? Be a better friend to the people I love.
Have you ever learnt lessons in unexpected places? Or found yourself getting the total opposite from an experience than you thought you’d get? Let me know!