This past week I went away to an island off of Canada in the middle of Charleston Lake and it was like a quiet, wooded wonderland. There were no other houses or people on the island besides my friends family, and it was so eerily silent that it was almost alarming, besides the constant humming of “Despacito”. It was a nice change of pace from the city, to say the very least.
On our trip we did a lot of swimming, canoeing (and getting lost), hiking, water skiing, tubing, camping, you name it. It was my summer dream come true. I probably could do with a whole summer away in nature. Something about it just fills me with unlimited joy and excitement, especially given the fact that I was feeling very weird about not being in the middle of a production. That immediately left my brain and I just enjoyed my time without feeling any sort of pressure, anxiety, or nervousness.
The only time I felt pure terror was not when we were camping and there was clearly an animal next to our tent, not when we saw fresh bear claw prints and mountain lion tracks on our trail letting us know that they had to be close by, not when we went on the canoe in pitch black darkness, not body slamming into the water after being tossed into the air off of the tube. None of that. It was when I got ready to jump off of the 4th and biggest cliff that I had encountered on the trip.
The days before, I had been jumping off of cliffs that were anywhere between 15 ft and 25 ft without any qualms. I wouldn’t even think about it. I just ran and flew through the air, knowing that I would safely hit the water and swim back so that I could do it all again. On this particular day, we decided to go around sunset to a 40 ft cliff. It looked small from the boat and I wasn’t remotely shaken, thinking that it would be a piece of cake.
I jumped off of the boat into the clear, fresh water and swam over to the rocks and got ready to climb. The climb seemed like it was really taking a while, but I didn’t think anything of it; I was ready. I got to the top of the cliff and immediately fear struck my heart. It wasn’t like the others where I ran and had a great time and jumped. We were above all of the trees, looking out into the distance at numerous islands. Some people were on boats enjoying a mellow evening ride. It was beautiful. I looked down at the water and felt my palms begin to clam up. That never happens. My heart raced with pure insanity, and it was my first time being afraid of heights or anything thrilling. I am an adrenaline freak, or so I thought. I looked down at the calm water waiting beneath me. My friends dad was yelling from the boat, but I was zoning out. I was terrified.
I thought about other times that I had felt extremely nervous and the silliest things came to mind like walking into an audition or having to deal with confrontation. It was the same feeling I felt as I teetered on the edge, scared of what could happen. It really put things into perspective for me and I realized how much confidence it takes to do things in life that might sometimes seem terrifying, but when put in an actual scary situation, it sure makes it seem easier. I waited for so long before jumping, psyching myself out. I noticed that that was another thing that people seem to do when they are scared: they wait. I took a deep breath. I saw 3 other people do the jump. Why was I so scared? I needed to do it to prove to myself that I could overcome my fear and live to tell the tale. Not only that but in my eyes, if I could do this, I could do anything.
I finally took the chance and leaped over the edge of the cliff, plummeting from 40 feet in the air into the water. My ass hit the water so hard that I have bruises to show for it, but it was the greatest decision I ever made. I had so much fun once I stopped thinking about it and relaxed. Anything great that happens in life does not happen from a tense place. talented singers, dancers, actors, athletes, doctors, etc. all have to work from a place of relaxation, otherwise they would be all over the place and would mess up without a doubt because they were psyching themselves out.
I have a bit of a new lease on life now after facing that fear. I have let so many things scare me, and for what? It does no good to worry and hide away and tense up. You are only hurting yourself by doing that and not allowing yourself to open up and be brave. It’s hard. And it’s a process. It’s something I have been learning over the years, it didn’t just happen because I jumped off of a cliff. But I will say, that it is a worthy process and at first it may seem scary, but you will love yourself and the choices that you make more because you will live without the regret of what could have been.