I had pretty much always said I wouldn’t jump out of an airplane. I was pretty sure I had rationalized within myself why it was only irresponsible people (I mean….we have 2 kids under the age of 3) and daredevils that do those types of things. Not me. I told myself I didn’t have to prove anything. But deep down I did. Deep down I wanted to jump. Deep down a part of me knew that I HAD to do it…..to prove to myself that I could overcome my fear. I could take the action needed instead of just reading and analyzing.
When I found out two weeks before the jump that my husband and I had the opportunity to go sky diving on our trip to Mexico my first instinct was to say “Hell yeah!”. My second instinct was to say “WTF was I thinking?”. I pretty much lied to myself up until the night before….telling myself that I could always back out if I wanted to. I was petrified. Of what? I am not really sure actually. It wasn’t even the thought of death as I was pretty sure I would survive (after all skydiving has a pretty good survival rate). It was just the thought of the unknown and the free fall. I was actually looking forward to the parachute part. So why was I so damn scared? I couldn’t sleep the night before. I kept waking up after dreaming of falling. I kept trying to get my stomach to stop flip flopping but nothing worked. I watched videos about sky diving. I read articles about sky diving. I wondered if I would actually do it. Notice I was still telling myself I could back out if I wanted to.
As we drove towards the area in Queretaro, Mexico where we would jump, I tried to pump myself up with music but underneath I was still feeling a bit like jelly. It’s hard to know what the real fear is if dying isn’t it. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t jump. I wouldn’t be able to live it down. Everyone else was going to jump….I had to. What seemed like a great idea 2 weeks ago via a Facetime call now seemed like an utterly terrible one.
By this time I knew I was jumping. I couldn’t go all the way there and not jump. I wasn’t a pussy (excuse my French). So…I decided to go up in the second round of jumps along with my husband Omar (who by the way wasn’t scared at all…ugh). As they suited us up in the harnesses, I was still panicking inside but was trying to keep cool. By the time we got up into the airplane (which had some engine trouble and kept us waiting aka agonizing an extra 40 minutes) I was pretty much ok. I knew I was jumping and there was no turning back. I was calm. I think I had run out of fear. I had been so afraid for the 2 weeks leading up to that moment that I had nothing left. I resigned myself to the fact that in about 15 minutes (length of plane ride to reach altitude) I would be jumping out of an airplane from somewhere between 11,000-13,000 feet and that was that.
I smiled for the camera and tried to relax as we made our ascent. When we reached altitude and my tandem instructor said “ok, let’s go”, I didn’t cringe. He opened the door and even though I tried not to look down, I couldn’t help but peek. We were above the clouds and the ground below was just tiny multi-coloured squares. But I was alright. He put my body out of the door as he stayed in and held on. He started to count…1….2…(and there was supposedly going to be a 3 but he pushed on 2) and we were off. I just remember the rush of the wind as I fell at about 120 mph and looking down at the ground. I wasn’t afraid. It was exhilarating and freeing. Most of all….I had faced my fear. After about 30 seconds my instructor “El tio” opened the parachute and we began our slow decent down to the ground. It was more powerful that I ever imagined. The pull of the parachute at the slightest touch of the handles was something I never could have imagined.
The lesson was that it is important to face your fears. It isn’t ok to just dismiss them and find a way out. Pushing past the uncomfortable is necessary for growth. If nothing else I am proud of myself for doing what I said I would despite being scared. The video below by Will Smith (who I absolutely adore by the way) puts it perfectly. Everything great is on the other side of our greatest fears…and I am one step closer!
If you ever have the opportunity, JUMP…you won’t regret it.