Today I went zip lining. I did something that scared me a lot. Now I know to some of you that’s no big deal and you might think, “Wow if that scares Valerie she must be a wuss!” Let me give you some background info.
I never remember having a fear of heights as a child. I wasn’t jumping off the roof of our house like my brother did, but I wasn’t hiding out in the house either. Sometime after I graduated from Purdue I developed a fear of flying. I remember white knuckling it during a few bad flights and then poof! I started to be afraid to fly. Just being in the airport gave me great anxiety. I began to be CERTAIN that I would die if I got into an airplane, and it was bad.
It didn’t stop there though. I became afraid to go up in high places, and even staying on a high floor of a hotel was torture. Going up in the St. Louis Arch was agony, and it was worse if Jacqueline and Danielle got too close to the edge of anything, even if it was ENCLOSED. Not a good way to live.
So, we drove everywhere when the girls were younger. And I always kept them away from ledges or high up places, and of course I never went near there either. When we went back to visit St. Louis around the year 2005, we were in a hotel on the 14th floor and I remember the girls saying, “Mom the room is on the FOURTH floor”, just so I wouldn’t be terrified.
Then, in 2009 I was going through some tough times both personally and with my health, and I did something I NEVER thought I’d do, I flew in a plane BY MYSELF and had to change planes too. At first, I couldn’t even get on the plane. I had a flight on a Thursday, I drove to the airport and COULDN’T EVEN PARK MY CAR. I didn’t get on the plane and drove back home. I was so terrified that it was worth missing a vacation so that I wouldn’t have to get on the plane and risk certain death (in my mind anyway).
Then something happened to me. I awakened the next morning and thought, “Valerie you are an idiot! You are missing out on a wonderful trip because you’re SCARED!” And you know what?!! I was tired of missing out on great times because of fear. So you know what I did? I called the airline and they changed my ticket to a flight that day for only $50. I threw some clothes in a suitcase and ran out the door for the airport. I parked my car, went through security and got on the plane.
And yes, I was terrified, but I was more EXHILARATED, PROUD AND RELIEVED than anything else. My flight was delayed two hours in Chicago and I sat on the plane talking to a nice woman next to me, enjoying myself, not freaking out.
I realized that because of my fears, my world had gotten smaller and smaller, and me with it. I was done with living a little, tiny life because that wasn’t me. Along with this realization came a sense of freedom that made me feel like I could fly without an airplane! Because here’s the thing, WHEN YOU FACE YOUR FEARS YOU REALIZE THAT YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO- ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING! And that is a very freeing feeling.
So back to the zip lining thing, now I can fly on an airplane with very little fear. I mean, after all you are enclosed and you don’t even have to look down to see how high up you are. But that is not the case with zip lining. You are definitely not enclosed and you can for sure see how high up you are. And you know what, I was scared. But you know what else, I did it anyway because I learned that lesson a few years ago and I’m not limiting myself anymore. At the end of it, I was again exhilarated proud and relieved that I had done something that scared me. I lived through it and actually had a little fun in the process.
A few years ago I went parasailing when we were on vacation too. Another thing that scared the pants off of me- good thing because I was wearing a bathing suit- but I did it anyway. And I will continue to do things that scare me. In a different way, starting this blog was scary to me and I did that too because once you start doing things that scare you, you realize they aren’t that scary after all and can be the time of your life. I’m not sure I’ll ever parachute out of a plane or bungee jump, but I’ve learned never to say never! So the lesson for today is- don’t let your fears limit you and remember to do things that scare you so you can grow big and strong, which will allow you to lead a life of vitality- like Valerie! 😃