This Is What Skydiving Taught Me About Overcoming Fears

For those of you who follow me on Twitter (yes, the loyal five of you), you know that I have taken up a new hobby this year — skydiving.

What you may not know is that I SUCK at it. I’m truly terrible. I think the instructors draw straws on who has to go up with me. But that’s ok because I usually suck at everything I try…well, at least in the beginning.

My gift in this world is perseverance, grit, persistence or, as my mother would put it, “being a stubborn lass.” Yes, I made my Mom Scottish in this quote to avoid using a curse word and because it would be cool if she actually was Scottish (mostly because I am on a major Outlander kick right now).

So if I suck at it, why do I keep insisting on throwing myself out of a plane every few weekends to try again?

I love the rush, of course. But I realized something else on my last jump.

Sitting on my knees in a tiny Cessna 10,000 feet above solid ground, I realized that what magnetizes me to such a crazy hobby is the fact that it’s the ultimate method of conquering fear.

I hate fear.

The older I get, the more I loathe it and despise being in its shadow. I’ve learned to embrace it — whether it’s in failure, competition, public speaking or going so far as to hurl my body out of a plane.

But why?

I wasted a lot of my life being afraid, holding back, not speaking up, and not letting go. Sometimes I would simply make a decision out of fear or worse — make no decision at all.

I see fear hold so many people back.

I’ve been given so many reasons why something can’t be done, but in truth fear is acting as a big, jagged roadblock. It’s sad to think about so many opportunities being wasted and seeing so many chances slip away.

Of course, I was joking when I said my skydiving instructors dread dealing with me earlier. They’re amazing and so committed to helping me become a skilled and safe skydiver. After my fourth jump — one that was particularly bad — my instructor asked me why I felt the need to skydive?

My answer was instantaneous

Skydiving is a parallel for the challenges I have in my life. I need the consistent belief in myself that I can handle any challenge, whatever it may be.

On Sunday, it’s the challenge of arching off a plane correctly, but on Monday it’s dealing with a stubborn client. On Tuesday it’s closing a sale or making payroll or convincing my 6-year-old that a bath is a benefit to her health and that no, the dog can’t join her in the tub.

My instructor loved my answer and took me on my fifth jump where I learned the trick to skydiving — letting go of the plane and RELAXING!

Relaxing in the face of fear — not just embracing it but actually relaxing despite it. What an absolutely awesome lesson for both skydiving and life!

“But aren’t you afraid of dying?”

Absolutely not, and I haven’t been for quite a few years. In fact, about the only thing I fear is not living up every precious day I have in this beautiful world.

So, what are you afraid of? What’s holding you back?

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