The title is not only a resemblance with a popular book, is also one of my experiences this year.
EVERYBODY has fears and two of my tops are: HEIGHTS and SPEED. There is NO WAY I do any activity that includes one-or both-of the above (except by taking an airplane 🙂 ).
However, along these years, I have encountered some opportunities in my life that put me in an awkward position and made me face these fears. For example:
Texas, May 2000. I remember being at Six Flags and having the courage of trying the “Texas Giant”. WTF! I promised myself: I will NOT do it AGAIN!
Look at this picture. I had those two faces… and more!
I bought this cup to have a souvenir of that experience.
PS: My family calls me “Karen”.
Cancun, April 2002. After a couple of beers with my friends, I was SO CLOSE to try the “Bungee jumping” experience … but NO WAY, my fears were stronger!
Austria, January 2015… a short-ski trip is organized at the office and I’m in! Wait a minute… do you ski? Of course not! But non-skiers were allowed and the “après-ski” was something I didn’t want to miss 🙂
Activities for non-skiers were foreseen and one of them was Paragliding. I checked in Google and NO WAY I would do it!
The day has come, we are 10 colleagues driving to the Alps with a team of 5 pilots and its Leader. Along the way, the Leader gives the general instructions and asks who’s going to jump: I DON’T! I said…. Come ooon Karina! Do it!… my colleagues.
The more we were going up, the more I was sure I would NOT do it.
We came to the top, and the first group of 5 had to prepare the equipment and listen to the last-minute instructions. I stayed there to listen and observe… Basically, the pilot is behind you, both run forward to the cliff till the point there is no more ground under your feet, at that moment the air inflates the wing, you put your legs straight to the front and the harness you are attached to turns into a kind of “chair”.
I checked the first group and these thoughts came to my mind: “It doesn’t look SO difficult”, “I can handle it”, “I think I can do it”, etc, etc… I felt a certain confidence, but when I looked at the height I started to sweat, and NOT because of the height itself, but because I WANTED to do it!
From that moment I could not have internal-peace, while the first group was flying, the rest of the group and the Leader went for a drink. I couldn’t talk or participate in the conversation, I was the whole time thinking “should I do it?”
The first group came up and shared their experience. Time for the second group to start preparing the equipment. The Leader said to his team: “this time, only 4”. My colleagues said: “come ooon Karina!”… “mmm, I don’t know”. I KNEW I would do it. The Leader looked at me and said: “look, I have 20 years of experience, if you do it, I’ll do it with you”…
(THAT was the trigger)
OK, I’LL DO IT!
It was not Leo DiCaprio telling me “if you jump, I jump”… It was the fact that someone with more experience than me in that field, would help me/support me if I cannot handle it.
Where was my fear? Was the height not important anymore?
I’m ready with the equipment, the Leader gives me the last instructions and by looking at my face he asks to one of the pilots to help me to run. As human reflect, you tend to stop right before the cliff. There is no way back and at that moment I realized the ONLY I have to handle is THAT second, that’s all.
Selfie before the event… inhale… exhale… Let’s DO IT!
We start to run, I see the cliff and start to slow-down, the pilot pushes me and… there we go… I’M IN THE AIR!!!… In two seconds, I was sitting in my “floating sofa” in front of the mountains…
I cannot describe exactly what I felt… I was SO FREE!
The impact of this experience was so strong that I started to read about FEARS.
I found interesting things in Feel the fear… and do it anyway, for example:
- “The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow”
- “The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it”
It might sound contradictory, but it makes sense.
Every time I’m ready to start a new challenge, my fears will pop-up AGAIN! And the ONLY WAY to “overcome” them is by doing it.
I like to think that there is a new skill for me to develop: “to learn how to handle my fears while I’m doing it”…
Like any skill, I have to practice and I know that… the more I do it… the better I do it 🙂
I’m not saying that my plan is to jump from the highest mountains in the coming months!… but if I can adopt this new mindset with my other fears, I can take ANY challenge in my life… don’t you think?
What I’ve learned from this experience is priceless and I try to apply it to other areas of my life.
I don’t want to conclude this article without the following:
- Think about the fears that stop you to continue. Why don’t you try to put your energy in the ability to handle that fear instead of focus on the fear itself? Just try!
- Bonus: If you know me and don’t believe I flew in the Alps… check this video:
Look at my face when the pilot tells me that we’re at 1,000mts (10”). And no, I didn’t shit in my pants!
Any tip about how to handle a fear?
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Hasta la próxima…