The Reluctant Skydiver
This post has been written as part of my partnership with Microsoft and their #WorkWonders program.
When HB gave me a skydiving gift voucher for Mother’s Day last year it’s safe to say I reacted to it badly.
I simply cut it up and threw it in the bin and I didn’t give it a single thought.
Why are we so afraid to step outside of our comfort zones?
I believe daily routines and rituals provide me with comfort, security and certainty. I have learnt to manipulate them so that my anxiety and stress levels are kept to a minimum. This is self-preservation in its simplest form – humans are creatures of comfort.
But what is life if you never take a chance?
Could it be a life well lived if you took more risks?
I set about trying to change the way my brain works the past month or two. Firstly I needed to focus on my anxiety levels and after a ton of research I came to the following conclusions:
- So much of my time is spent worrying on worst case scenarios that actually never happen.
- Majority of my anxiety stems from thinking up these worst case scenarios and replaying them.
- Does one really need to worry if – everyone is well and alive, you have a roof over your head and food on the table?
The last point I picked up from a Jillian Michaels podcast and I now use it when I find a situation becoming too stressful – I simply say to myself, ‘In this moment, we are all alive and well, we have a roof over our heads and enough food to eat’. And I remind myself that worrying about a potential crisis will not help the cause at all.
Now I just let the stress and anxiety go and put that extra spare time to good use.
So I took a chance and booked an appointment to jump out of a plane at 12,000 ft.
I will admit to being nervous and terrified the days leading up to Saturday, but I didn’t dwell on it for hours. I gave myself a pep talk which basically went like this ‘If you can run a marathon around Darwin in just under 5 hours, surely you can spend 2 minutes jumping out of a plane’.
Running has given me confidence in every aspect of my life. It took some time, but I realised that with each running goal I smashed that I quietly became increasingly confident, more outgoing and a bit of a go-getter.
Running is life changing.
Pounding the pavement has also led me to being more efficient and organised.
Being organised and staying in control of all the stuff that’s happening in your daily life really does assist to keep you on track, focused and in the present. I use my Microsoft Surface Pro 3 throughout my day to update my calendar, schedule my week ahead and at a glance I can see what’s happening. It also syncs with Office 365 on my iPhone so I have zero excuses for when I’m away from home to say for example not turn up for a Skydiving appointment!
When you’re in control, organised and on top of everything, stepping out of that comfort zone seems a little less frightening and a touch easier.
My first skydiving experience
Note: you can view the video of my first skydive over on the Move Fuel Love Facebook Page. Watch me in all my terrified glory, from the time I walk onto the tarmac to the moment I land on the beach.
I knew the skydive itself would take around 2 minutes and I thought it’s either going to be one of the best experiences of your life or if it’s not it won’t last long at all.
Then I thought about the worst case scenario and I didn’t spend more than a few minutes on this one I just came up with the only honest fact – if something goes wrong, in less than 2 minutes I’ll be dead. Simple really.
I should mention here that I have a fear of heights. It’s something I never had as a child, but the older I get, the worse it gets. I don’t like hotel balconies, peering over bridges or walking on cliffs, so to do this was most definitely a challenge that required me to face my fears.
The plane was tiny, there were no seats and there was only room for the four of us squished to the max on the floor. The flight up was fantastic and when we go to 4,000ft I saw the clouds and thought OK this is high enough let’s go, but no we had to climb higher for another ten minutes.
At around 8,000ft the nervousness just disappeared and an eery sense of calm surrounded me – there was no backing out now.
A younger girl was with me and she was jumping first and when the plane door opened, the noise of the air rushing in was deafening and all I could hear was her screaming and shouting ‘Oh My God, Oh My God’ and then I saw her body roll out of the plane and within a blink of an eye they were gone.
My turn …
At this point, my instructor was moving me towards the door and asking me to hold onto the side of the plane, I looked down and all I could see was swirling grey storm clouds and I closed my eyes here. I decided if at any point I was uncomfortable I would just use that as a coping mechanism and let my body go through the motions.
Then it was our turn, we rolled out of the plane and I was expecting floating. I had read many first skydive encounters and they had all mentioned that it was nothing like falling and that it was a beautiful floating experience.
They obviously didn’t do a freefall skydive, it felt like I had jumped off a skyscraper.
My instructor tapped me on the shoulder, I opened my eyes and my arms and I was hurtling towards earth at 200kms/hr and it was amazing.
After 30seconds, there was another tap and held on tight to my harness and the parachute was opened. I closed my eyes again as this part felt like a rollercoaster ride.
And then there it was, the silence and the floating …..
This is what it must feel like to soar like a bird. The noise of the air rushing was gone, I took off my goggles and enjoyed the view. I got to steer and guide the parachute and do a complete 360 spin and it really was the greatest experience.
Not for one moment did my fear of heights kick in and the scientist in me can only justify it by saying your flight/fright response takes over, adrenalin kicks in and there is no time to even consider it.
All that is left to do is enjoy the moment.
And that I did.
By taking a step out of my comfort zone, I in fact permanently opened up my ‘zone’ to a wider new realm of possibilities and opportunities and in turn I have created a new comfort zone for myself. It certainly feels this way.
Next time I will nudge that boundary a bit wider because I know when I do challenge myself – something AWESOME happens.
Each ‘next time’ I step out of that comfort zone will become easier and easier.
I certainly don’t plan on becoming an adrenalin junkie and there are many different ways that I can challenge myself.
Head over to the Move Fuel Love Facebook Page to watch the video.