That terrifying, breath-sapping, bum-trembling moment of truth when I must trek across the sand dunes and drop my sarong to stand exposed in nothing but my cossies, untanned skin and crippling lack of self-confidence.
It happens every summer, sandwiched in between trying to cram the Christmas wrapping paper into the recycling bin and fighting over the last honeycomb chocolate square on the family dining table.
Out of nowhere, the mercury suddenly soars, the seagulls wilt in the sky, and I am forced to choose between melting into oblivion on the couch or blinding the locals at the nearest beach in my tummy covering one-piece and security sarong.
It is exceptionally safe to say that, even after life long love affair with the ocean and nearly thirty years living up and down the Eastern Australian coastline, my body is never 'beach ready' for my annual sandy debut.
Despite my very best intentions, a long list of bookmarked beauty blogs and several drunken New Years resolutions shouted with celebratory conviction, I am the permanent antithesis of a summery beach queen.
I have an impressive lack of exfoliation skills, an empty space in my mind where beauty knowledge should reside, and a blatant disregard for all things tan and product that would make even the most compassionate beauty magazine editor hang their head in shame.
Living in this perpetual unreadiness, the annual road from couch to beach is a tough one, designed to challenge my tentative grip on positive self-perception and rapidly fuel my seasonal desire to consume cocktails - immediately, rapidly, in bulk.
The starting hurdle is always the hardest: in a state of sheer despondency, I wriggle into my swimmers, stopping frequently to curse the ample portions of Christmas trifle I've tucked away over the silly season and suffocating heat of the Australian summer.
I slather myself in sunscreen, once and then twice, acutely aware of my ghostly Melbournian pallor and the unavoidable realities and consequences of sun exposure and burn.
Covered from head to toe and back and with no more lotion to play with, I sink into procrastination, fiddling with the strap of my hat, the positioning of my pony tail, the lid of my water bottle, anything in sight, to delay the inevitable ...
The trek through the dunes is scorchingly blissful, toes frying in the grit and the whack of wind distracting my senses from the challenge ahead - where there is nothing but sand and water and my own imagined inadequacies, competing for priority on my rainbow striped beach towel of truth.
Convinced that the handful of occupied swimmers and bored sun-bakers are staring and ready to laugh in mocking judgement, I dredge up some imagined bravery: top off, shorts down, bum up, legs out, hyperventilate, breathe, swim.
The swim is the ultimate summer prize, sparking up my confidence like an unexpected Christmas present on Boxing Day. As soon as I'm in the water, it takes just three short seconds and a mouthful of salt to forget what the fuss was all about.
There's something deeply refreshing about duck-diving under the breakers and getting dunked like a bobbing bottle cork that wipes out my self-doubt. Being in the water takes me straight back to being a beach kid, keen for an afternoon on the board and a lemonade ice-block.
So if you see me on the water's edge this summer, trembling with trepidation and lighting up the horizon with my permanently pale pins, just push me in - a bit of salt fixes everything.
Do you dread getting in your cossies too?
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Photo credit: Victor Bezrukov via photopin cc