Speaker Logo for Jasmine C. Williams

put your feet down, you can stand here.

I’m still a little bitter because my older sister got the better birthday. When we were growing up, I remember thinking she was so lucky – always got to celebrate with summer pool parties, beach trips and no school.

Although, in her defense, I almost ruined one of her birthdays.

When she turned eight, our family and friends all met up at the local pool for her party. When we got there, all of the kids who were tall enough to go down the waterslide got a wristband to show the lifeguard who was at the bottom of the stairs.

Little Jas, who would like it to be noted that most of the time she had school on her birthday, didn’t get a wristband. The lifeguard told her she wasn’t quite tall enough yet, maybe next year kiddo. 

Little Jas was a bit of a wild child, so she snuck past the lifeguard and up the stairs to the waterslide anyway. Yiiiiikes.

Meanwhile, our mom was on the other side of the pool doing her hostess with the mostest duty: taking pictures of each kid’s face as they come flying down the slide into the water. Imagine her surprise when she looks through the disposable camera shutter and sees… me.

“Wait!! No, she can’t swim!” my mom yelled before jumping in the pool to save me.

Only, she can’t swim either. So a giant, hairy male lifeguard had to save us both. ​Yiiiiikes.

Little Jas pouting that they wouldn’t let her go down the slide again after the whole almost drowning thing.
A lot of times in life, we feel like we’re ‘drowning.’ We’re drowning in work, drowning in debt, drowning in laundry – you name it.

We just try to keep our heads above water while we wait for someone else to blow their whistle, jump in and pull us out. 

At my sister’s pool party, I was literally drowning, so a lifeguard had to jump in and save me (and my mom). 

The reality is, a lot of us are not drowning… we’re struggling. 

Most of our problems are not life or death. Most of our problems are centered around the fact that our lives aren’t exactly the way we want them to be yet.

We don’t need some big, hairy male lifeguard to jump in and pull us out. What we really need is someone else who has been through that same struggle to come up beside us and say, “I know it feels like you’re drowning right now, but put your feet down, you can stand here.”

Think about the last big problem you had. Would it have been easier if someone else who had just gone through that same problem had helped you? Duh.

Why do we default to ‘I learned this the hard way, so everyone else has to learn this the hard way too’?

I’m a firm believer that there is something that you’ve been through in your life that someone else is going through right now. Instead of watching them get lost in the same places you did, why not share your map?

Exactly a decade after the whole almost drowning incident, I got a shiny whistle and red bathing suit of my own!

Luckily, “Have you ever been saved by a lifeguard?” was not one of the questions on my test.

For a while, I kind of forgot about being saved by a lifeguard when I was younger. That is, until one of my last days on the job when I blew the whistle and made my first (and only) save.

We don’t always have to pay it forward to society, sometimes we pay it back. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed and no one has told you lately:

Put your feet down, you can stand here. I promise.

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