Fear of heights and public speaking are often rated as top fears in research articles. I am extra lucky because for years I have been dealing with both. If you have experienced a true anxiety attack from a fear (whether its heights, birds, clowns, zombies or the government watching you through your TV screen), you know what I’m talking about. Sweating. Hyperventilating. Clammy hands. Can’t breathe or talk. IT IS THE WORST!
I had recently gone through a major life changing event and my fears were taking a turn for the worse. I felt like something was wrong with me and I needed to fix it. I was having a crisis and I needed to place a stop to this. And then I realized something…
The only way to fight a fear is to face it!
If you don’t face your fears, you let them win. I have already missed out on a lot in my life because I let my fears run my life.
For a few months I was obsessing on how to challenge myself and start getting over my fears. So when a co-worker walked into my office and asked me if I wanted to go BUNGEE JUMPING off a forgotten bridge in the middle of nowhere, I immediately said YES! Even though I have a HUGE fear of heights, I shocked myself at how quickly I agreed! Of course I couldn’t do it alone; I had to recruit some help from friends which turned out to be easier than I thought. It’s good to know that your friends are as crazy as you are! (If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you?)
As I was telling my friends and family about my plans to jump off a bridge, I typically got one of two responses:
1) What the heck is wrong with you? Why would anyone ever want to do that?
2) That is so awesome!! Where can I do that?
I’m not sure which one of those attitudes fired me up more, but there I was, in the mountains on a Saturday morning at 7 am, beginning the 5 mile hike to the bridge. The excitement and comradery of the tour guides and 30 fellow adventurists made me all but forget about the bridge. But as we got closer with every step, the excitement and anxiety started to set in about what I was about to do:
Trust my life on a piece of rope as I plunge off a bridge.
Along the hike, our tour guides explained that usually there is a person or two who have to be “Dr Phil’ed”. You know, that person who chickens out last second and needs a last minute therapy session to be convinced to jump off the ledge. As scary as the thought of jumping off a bridge was, I knew one thing for sure: I had come too far to be that person. It was now time to trust the tour guides and their proven history: over 26 years of jump experience and over 170,000 individual jumps without any incidents.
Once we got to the bridge and were strapped in by the tour guides, there was no turning back. When given the choice, I decided to jump facing the bridge, the option recommended for first timers.
When it was my turn to jump, I had to compose myself and lift one shaking leg after the other over the ledge. My hands were slightly trembling as I applied my death grip to the rails, but at the same time I felt more composed and present in that moment than I had ever been. It was a few seconds before my jump and at that point I couldn’t differentiate peer-pressure from supportive friendship as my friends yelled, “This is the beginning of our fun life crisis, you HAVE to follow through with it!” With music blasting over loudspeakers, my heart racing 1000 beats per second, and my friends cheering me on, I felt like I was invincible. As I looked into the guides eyes, hoping his face was not the last thing I ever saw (no offense), I couldn’t help but trust him. Then I heard it: the entire group starting to chant the countdown “Three. Two. One…”
Before I knew it I had climbed back over the ledge, unhooked my harness, and ran behind a rock to hide.
Just kidding, I DID IT!!!
As I took the leap backwards and I saw the bridge getting further and further away from me I was thinking “Is this really happening? How much longer before I hit the rocks below and my life is over?” Just when I thought all hope was lost, the elastic bungee rope jolted me back up and my nose seemed to be back within a few inches from the bridge. This cycle repeated for a while as my body swung around like a ragdoll and I praised my decision to not have a big breakfast. After a few swings I came to the realization that I just overcame my biggest fear. I started screaming “F*YA!” and I could hear my friends laughing at the top of the bridge. Everything was out of my control, I had let go and it felt liberating.
DID I REALLY JUST JUMP OFF THAT BRIDGE?!
After being pulled back up to the bridge, the adrenaline rush was incredible. With all of my friends cheering and high-fiving I felt like I was on top of the world! And then I got to watch my friends do it too! I got to hear their screams and cursing for help as one by one they too took the plunge. The laughter and joy that filled the air was surreal.
It was one of the craziest experiences I’ve ever had and it opened my eyes that I can do anything I set my mind to.
Life is truly full of adventures and little surprises, you just have to jump off a bridge every once in a while. Okay, maybe start by taking that new spin class or trying a new sushi dish.
Step out of your comfort zone and challenge your fear. BE BRAVE! Don’t let the fear win.
If reading this article ignites a courageous spark and you are ready to take the leap (pun intended), here is a link to the brave folks that organize these jumps in Southern California:
Do YOU have a ‘Fun life crisis’ moment? WE want to hear all about it! Leave us a comment below.
Written by Laura Sausina and Priscilla Lam.