When I was a child I was fearless!!! Believe it or not but I was a bit of a tomboy. I could often be found up a tree, I would jump off the garage roof into the snow in the winter time and I would go full speed ahead down the slalom slopes. As I got older my fearlessness slowly trickled away and a fear began to grow…my extreme fear of heights. I say extreme because it is extreme, I have problems going up and down escalators in department stores that are more than two stories high.
When I was about twenty and studied in London I saved up for my first trip to Paris. Most people who go to Paris for the first time will visit the Eiffel Tower, as did I. Being a poor student I could not afford to go up in the tower by elevator so I opted for the affordable staircase instead…this is when I realized how irrational my fear of heights actually was. I can still feel the uneasiness growing in the pit of my stomach. As I climbed higher and higher the clenching in my stomach grew, the dizziness and clammy feeling soon followed. Half way up to the first floor I was pretty much in full panic. Now I had to make a choice…either carry on up or turn and go back down. I’m a pretty stubborn and determined person so I opted to carry on. I was so scared at this point that I just wanted to cry. The rational part of my brain knew this was perfectly safe but the irrational part had taken over with “what ifs”. To distract myself I started to sing much to the amusement of my fellow stair climbers but I really didn’t care about any of that. I got to the first floor and in a haze of emotions I planted myself safely away from any sort of view for a good hour and a half. After regaining some sort of composure I sang as I descended all the way down to the ground again. At that time I vowed to myself that I would NEVER do that again…now I’m not entirely sure…
As the years have gone by I’ve found that I have certainly not become less cowardly, if anything I’ve become a full blown wimp when it comes to heights. About a year ago though I decided that enough is enough, time to face your fears! I started with little stuff like a bridge over a two way street in the little town I live. This bridge has posed problems and I felt it was ridiculous to be so scared of walking over it. I put on my sunglasses, music in my ears, deep breath and then I walked…guess what??? I lived, I walked over that stupid bridge and I was still in one piece.
Next challenge was this summer when the kids, mrlovely, my friend miss B her kids and I went to a climbing park. I had mentally prepared myself and felt quite brave. We got a bit of training in climbing safety, got our safety gear on and off we went. On the first course about three meters off the ground both of my children freaked out and had to be collected down, I really didn’t need to pass my fear of heights on to them… I however was on a mission, I had something to prove, not to anybody other than myself. I carried on, knees shaking, palms sweaty and heart pounding. I did complete my mission, not enjoyably but with an immense feeling of accomplishment!
Today I have yet again grabbed the bull by its horns, so to speak. We all went to the swimming hall tonight. I am a very strong swimmer and feel comfortable in the water. As in most swimming halls there are diving boards, my challenge came from mrlovely who is acquainted with my fear…”why don’t you jump off the three meter board?” Hmmm… I am not a girl who easily shies away from a challenge. Besides I kind of wanted to do it and it didn’t really look so high from down there in the water. I went up, there were a lot of people at the pool tonight and kids were jumping off that thing left right and center. I let a couple of kids go before me just to prepare myself…that was my big mistake, I should have just gone up there and jumped without thinking. The longer I waited the more scared I got. I felt the dizziness creeping into me. At first some people were looking with vague interest to see if this full grown woman was going to jump too, after a little while they lost any interest. Mrlovely and Ulrikke’s friend, who had already jumped off the ledge several times, came up to give me some words of encouragement. A kid did a running jump into the water right past me. I stood there on the edge weighing my options. “That boy is only nine!” Ulrikke’s friend told me…”so what?” I thought “I could do that when I was nine too”. Again like in the Eiffel Tower I had to make a decision, jump or take the chicken way out…the water slide…I jumped!!!
It may all seem trivial and silly but this all means something to me. Like in life we are faced with options…do you take a risk, go with your gut feeling and jump or do you take the safer but bumpy slide down? I say face your fears one step at a time and jump in…cuz you know what??? The water is lovely!!! 😉