On Stepping Off Ledges And Leaps Of Faith

Recently, my sorority had our sisterhood retreat, a day wherein we’d all head to a place called Camp Canaan, and partake in activities such as kayaking, playing field games, laying by the pool, and zip lining. Sounds like a pretty fun day in general, unless you are like me, and are afraid of heights. The words, “zip lining,” hit me like a bullet train.

There was an option for those that were genuinely terrified of heights: if you were one of the first 20 or so people, to fill out the form, you would be put in the kayaking group. Therein laid problem number two for me: I hate kayaking. I decided I hated kayaking a little bit more than I hated heights, so I put down zip lining as the activity I wanted to do.

Sisterhood retreat finally came around, and upon arrival, they threw us right into the thick of it. I decided to go with the first group to zip line, because I wanted to get it over with and I figured waiting around would just make me more anxious. I put on my gear and headed up the woods to the first station.

After waiting behind 12 or so of my sisters, it was almost time for me to climb up and take the leap. I stood there, looking up at each of the girls slide across the lines, thinking that yes, I could do this. I could absolutely do this. It was only a little high up, and I’d be safe. These people were trained professionals and there was hardly anything that could go wrong. I had worn six inch heels for an entire night one time, who was I to be afraid of heights? And, more importantly, if Carrie Bradshaw could successfully do the flying trapeze and accomplish a catch, I could absolutely get on the zip line.

It was finally my turn. I walked up the steps and nervously started walking across the little platforms that hung in the air to get to the station. As I walked, I got more and more nervous. What if I fell? What if my leg dropped through the platform cracks and ripped out of its socket? What if the zip line snapped while I was mid way through air? What if I didn’t brake properly and I broke my arm? What if I crashed into the tree and split my head open because I didn’t brake properly? What if?

I was at the platform. The woman hooked me up to the zip line and I looked at her, terrified. With shallow breaths, I told her I was freaking out. She smiled, said it was going to be okay, and that I could do this. I looked down. I was easily 60 feet off the ground. Maybe more. What if I fell? I couldn’t do this. There was no way. I glanced around, but there was nowhere for me to go. I was hooked up to the zip line already, how was I supposed to get down? I had to do it. I had to step off of the platform, and trust that I could successfully fly through the air, brake, and land on the other side safely.

So I did.

My landing was probably awful, but when I set foot on the other side, I nervously told the man that yes, I was fine; I just wanted to finish the other half of the course. He hooked me up, said I was good to go, and I had another internal battle with myself before realizing that I had just done this, nothing bad happened to me, and I could do it again. I stepped off of the platform and flew towards the landing.

What was startling about the entire experience was that it highlighted what I am really scared of. I am a perfectionist, and I tend to over think everything, including breathing. If I do not feel 110% confident that I will get a positive response from someone, I won’t even bother putting myself out there. This is particularly relevant when it comes to relationships. I’m afraid no one will be there to catch me. I am afraid of constantly being on my own, and never finding that one person that will be with me until the end.

I don’t want to step off of my ledge, knowing that it’s just me flying out on my own. I don’t want to take a risk without the total and complete reassurance that the feelings are echoed on the other party’s end. I spend 90% of my time being too scared to make any sort of move. Time and time again has shown me that when I do put myself out there, it backfires. It all ends up hurting me, I end up caring too much, I mess everything up, I misinterpreted, and why did I even think there were real feelings there? So why do I bother even stepping off of the ledge.

Why do any of us step off of the ledge? Why is it we suddenly decide that it is the right time and the right place to take that leap of faith? I’m of the opinion that it is because at the end of the day, our faith in the possible good outcomes of it all outweigh those terrifying fears of, “what if.” We want to believe that by us taking a chance, we can survive and maybe, just maybe, we will get what we think we deserve and what we want.

We are all scared. We are all, at some moment in time, paralyzed by fear. But sitting in the corner, too terrified to move, does us no good. If we never take the chance, how will we know anything but our past mistakes? Taking the leap encourages us to really try and go for that happy ending we want.

Gone are the days of waiting aimlessly around for someone to save us from a situation; it is 2014 and there is no one waiting to rescue us. It is up to us, the individuals, to rescue ourselves. Make yourself believe that good can come out of the bad. Make yourself believe that everything will somehow be worth it, and no matter what the past has shown you, you can change your future. You shape your future, you rescue yourself, and you make yourself better for having tried.

I did step off of the ledge on that zip line, and I survived. Will I ever do it again? Absolutely not. But that doesn’t mean that my accomplishment is diminished by any means. I fought for myself, cheered for myself, and made myself believe that despite the chaos of everything else happening around me, one day I will get what I’ve been working towards. I will create my own happy ending, and that starts with stepping off of the ledge and flying through the air. On my own. TC mark

image – Laura Bittner

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