Overcoming Fear

Continuing in a somewhat chronological order I will move on to “Do something I was too scared to do last summer.” I really love how vague I was in titling this because there were approximately two things that this was specifically referring to. And I’d like to clarify that I only had to do one to achieve the goal. Considering efficiency is extremely important to me, I did exactly one of the two things. I mean I had to leave something for next summer, right?! Are you sick of this yet?

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This Fourth of July was my second annual Fourth of July on the river – specifically at my friend’s house on a river outside of Pittsburgh. That was slightly more specific…This year more of the Michiganders joined the adventure. In preparation, and celebration of my friend’s birthday two of use created the fabulous cake pictured above. One of my many potential future careers when I decide to grow some balls and quit engineering is cake decorating. What do you guys think? This is with no training!

And getting back on track! So last summer (to clarify the first annual visit to the house) I was one of four people at the house. Everyone there was more adventurous than I was, and I was happy to keep watch of the boat when adventures took place. One of the long standing traditions of the river house is jumping off this porch that hangs over the water. It’s really not super high up. In fact it’s probably a shorter jump than the one I took for the Tough Mudder last summer, but that involved a lot of adrenaline build up and a very very different atmosphere. So when the first annual visit came to an end I promised myself that the next time I was there (ie the second annual Fourth of July on the river) I would jump off that porch and into the water.

Just to clarify a few things: in jumping off the porch you actually climb on the railing of the porch and jump off that. As in you, in theory, have to first gain balance on a 2×4, look down into the river, and feel confident enough to make the leap. Keep in mind also when you look down at the river while balancing (in theory) on the 2×4 railing you will see rocks. So really you’re not so much jumping down but out, to miss the rocks. When I was in high school Spanish we watched Mar Adentro, a movie about a man who dives off some cliffs, hits the rocks, and becomes a quadraplegic. Remember the start here button above. The one that leads to the post where I explain this blog and my amazing tendency to make a tragedy out of anything. You see how easy it was for me to reason not jumping off this measly railing and to my potential paralysis?

So on morning two of this visit, I woke up and made my way, with purpose, to the porch to face my scariest goal of the summer. The host knew very well that this was my plan for this visit. So he got everyone rounded up, while I stood there chickening out. Everyone was supportive. They offered to hold my hand while I attempted to balance on the 2×4. They explained that you actually don’t need to balance on said 2×4, you really need to use the 2×4 the propel you out and past those rocks that could lead to serious injury. So thus, I stepped away from the railing feeling defeated once again and contemplating throwing a few words to my grandfather so I don’t feel like the whole weekend was shot because of my failure. Several hours later with the help of a little bit of beer, I dramatically stripped down to my swimsuit and jumped off the railing. It really didn’t go that smoothly. After the dramatic removal of clothes, I dawdled on the porch, cursing the 2×4 and my inability to stand on it. Finally I accepted one of the hands being offered, looked down for a second too long, and leapt out. I then proceeded to try doing backflips off the dock and never succeeding. That’s the thing about facing your fears, it makes you feel indestructible, like you can do anything. Even though I never completed a single backflip, I still had a lot of fun trying, and a lot of fun knowing I faced one of my greatest fears by jumping off that porch!

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