With the recent discussion on fear in skydiving and life, and overcoming it in both…
Here is an article I wrote a while back on the subject.
Hope it helps!
Blue Skies Magazine, May 2010
Life Coaching Column #3
“Be Careful Brushing Your Teeth”
By Melanie Curtis
Just this month I’ve had two good friends call me in confidence, with concern in their voice… and tell me they were afraid of jumping. Like it was this dirty little secret (not good dirty), and ONLY because they totally trust me and know I love them for real no matter what, could they reveal this shocking and shameful feeling. Funny how now I’m writing about it in an internationally distributed magazine. Sweet.* Anyway, the thought that others might feel the same way had never entered their mind, both sure that it had to be something mis-wired in them, cause skydiving’s the sh*t ya know, and how could anyone be scared anywhere after 100 jumps? That said, behind their silence, they were both fairly convinced that their skydiving future was in real jeopardy.
Have you ever felt this? As experienced jumpers? I’m talking after the initial fear on AFF has faded away. After some time in the sport, where it’s only been fun fun fun since you started getting good, and then it happens… you’re scared again. Not just a passing thought, but one you feel… one that makes you hesitate. Maybe it lasts a couple hours after a reserve ride. Maybe you’re juuust a little too uncurrent. Maybe 3 fatalities in two weeks is under your skin and not going away. Maybe you break off at 7 grand cause you think about your pack job in freefall, can’t remember it, and that literally spooks you to go dump. Maybe it just came out of nowhere and the team training you were so excited about, and worked so hard to make happen, is now just plain freaking you out.
Sucky feeling, huh? Totally. Especially when skydiving is one of the things we love most in this world, in our lives, and what we always thought we’d have more of in our future.
Let me tell you right here and right now that this feeling is normal. And it can be fierce. It’s not fun.
It can make us feel alone in a community that has always made us feel completely cradled in like-minded company. You are not alone. We are in this thing together. On all levels, even the sucky ones. The reality in our sport, as we all unfortunately know, is that sometimes people die. It sucks. Duh. And, it’s f*cking scary.
Getting present with mortality is powerful stuff, and in those moments, as much as we love it, we can forget that skydiving is probably safer than brushing your teeth in some countries. That texting and driving is almost certainly more dangerous. That the drags on the cigarettes we “only smoke socially” are more likely to kill us. Questions come up inside us, whether we’re conscious of them or not. Why am I doing this? Do I really want to do this? Is it worth it? And worse, we’re embarrassed. We don’t want to tell anyone. It’s like admitting you’re afraid is taboo. Like you’ll be some leper weirdo who cracked, and gets cut from the cool kids.
We all have nonsensical naysayers in our heads telling us we can’t do stuff, that we might fail, that we might even die.
Fear can have a very extensive vocabulary and convincing stance in our own heads.