It’s OKAY to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.– Mandy Hale
I am a 46-year old mother of three girls and I am terrified of heights. I tend to get queasy by the third step on a ladder.
I am also really adventurous and determined to be the best, most fearless version of me and skydiving has always been on my bucket list. Plus, we were on a family trip to New Zealand, one of the most beautiful and best places on Earth to do it.
This is how I found myself in a shaky 12-person plane, strapped to Zach, the skydiving pro, as we were about to hurl ourselves towards the earth from 15,000 feet reaching a terminal velocity of 120 m/h.
I have to confess that I seriously questioned my sanity as the plane door opened.
“I can’t believe I’m actually doing this! This is crazy! Why can’t I just leave well enough alone and be content in my already amazing life? What if it’s about to end right now?” were the thoughts that were racing through my head as we inched our way on our behinds towards the open door.
I actually had three days and three sleepless nights to ponder these questions since the skydive kept getting canceled due to bad weather.
Every day, I would get dressed in full gear and psyche myself up to jump, only to be told at the very last moment that the wind conditions had changed and were no longer optimal to skydive.
It was torture.
“Is this a sign? Should I not be doing this?” I wondered.
My 14-year old desperately wanted to jump while my 11-year old nonchalantly stated, “I can’t believe you’re doing this. You’re going to kill yourself.” Her 6-year old sister instantly burst into tears.
I didn’t let my 14-year old jump and I reassured her younger sisters that I wasn’t going to die and that everything was going to be fine.
I wasn’t so sure, however.
I even e-mailed a spiritual clairvoyant who communicates with angels just to ask her if the angels thought it was a good idea that I jump.
They did and so I jumped.
As the plane door opened, I set my intention that with this jump, I would not only overcome my fear of heights but also release all of the fear that was keeping me from living 100% full on – all the fear that kept me playing it safe, that kept me from speaking out at times, that kept me from loving as openly, wholeheartedly and fiercely as I could.
Here’s what I learned about life and fear from this experience:
1. Fear is all made up and has little to do with reality.
We hear these all the time: “Feel the fear and do it anyway”, “Don’t let fear stop you”, “It’s all in your head”.
I always believed these to be true but by jumping out of that plane, I got it, fully and truly, in my bones: FEAR IS ALL MADE UP!
And it has little to do with reality.
The crippling fear that I felt before jumping was my mind making up how terrifying it would feel to fall through the air. I wasn’t afraid of the parachute not opening. I was afraid of jumping and the sensation of not being supported by anyone or anything.
Had my mind made up that it would be one of the best, most empowering experiences of my life (which it was!), I would have been excited with anticipation beforehand (which I wasn’t).
2. We can’t really know what something will be like without experiencing it first.
Before jumping, I watched YouTube videos of other people skydiving and read firsthand accounts of others’ experiences. I made up that I would be terrified as my stomach dropped down to my toes and I hurled at a frighteningly fast speed towards the Earth.
The reality felt very different.
Jumping out of the plane headfirst, I actually didn’t even feel the pull of gravity. I felt like a graceful ballerina, free and floating through space. I had the sense that had this been a movie, there would have been angelic classical music playing in the background. It was that beautiful and graceful.
My body had never known such surrender and freedom before and it was sublime.
3. When we need it, we are so much stronger, braver and wiser than we think.
As we settled into 60 seconds of freefall, I still didn’t feel the pull of gravity or my stomach dropping. I felt like you do when you stick your head out of a car window as you are going super-fast on the freeway. Times 100. At 120 m/h, the wind resistance was so strong that I couldn’t catch my breath.
I felt panic rise up inside of me until I heard a wise inner voice reassuring me that I would be alright as long as I stayed calm. That I would get all the oxygen that I needed.
I closed my eyes and did some deep yogic breathing as I tried to fully take in the sensations of my body having this incredible experience. I started to feel like I could do this and I realized that I would survive.
4. Courage is generously rewarded in life.
As the chute opened, everything slowed down. We were gliding over stunning landscape as Zach pointed out the beautiful mountains and rivers below.
It had taken all of the courage I had to jump out of that plane and it was completely worth it. I felt overwhelmed and delirious with joy and relief as I screamed, “I’m flying! I’m really flying!”
I have always pushed myself to live life fully and courageously and to pursue my passions and purpose. There are risks involved – things may not work out, I may fail, people may judge me or laugh at me or say “Who does she think she is?”
And yet, the payoff has been huge! I can’t even imagine the life I would be living if I hadn’t had the courage to leave the safety of the hoity-toity job I hated and the relationships that sucked me dry and to ignore the ways society told me to behave, especially once I became a mother.
5. Facing your big fears frees you to live life with more joy and ease.
When my feet touched firm ground again that day, I felt invincible and capable of achieving absolutely anything.
“If I can jump out of a plane, I can do anything,” became my new motto.
I vowed to myself in that adrenaline-fueled moment to live my life with even more passion, authenticity, and freedom. I knew that I was not going to let the fear of criticism and judgement, looking foolish or what people may say stop me from doing anything I wanted to ever again.
Six months have passed since I jumped and some of my assuredness has begun to wane. Sometimes, I can feel the old fears knocking on the door, trying to get back in.
But I don’t let them.
When faced with making an uncomfortable phone call that can lead to a big professional break, or initiating a difficult conversation that can make or break a relationship, or even envisioning huge dreams that my logical mind can’t fathom achieving, I think back to jumping out of that perfectly good plane at 15,000 feet and I know that if I can do that, I can do anything!
So can you. All you have to do is decide that you can.
What would your life be like if you faced your big fears?
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27 thoughts on “5 Truths I Learned About Life and Fear by Jumping Out of a Plane!”
Wow this is amazing. Very inspiring!
This is inspiring–I don’t know that I could ever get over my fear of heights enough to jump, but it’s good to remember that a lot of what holds us back is our own mind. Thanks for sharing!
I get it. It was a huge fear to get over but so liberating! We all have our ways to get over fears though and that’s what is important.
Great article! Yes, life rewards courage and I applaud and admire your courage!! Thanks for posting.
Thanks so much!
Fabulous!!! This post reminded me to take a deep breath and feel fear as exhilaration. NOW I WANT TO JUMP!!!
This is such an inspirational article. Facing the fear head on is an act of courage. When we want to create real power in our lives we can look for areas that we fear and change that. It is also a the way we prove to ourselves that we are in control of our destiny. We are powerful beyond measure. Thank you for being a role model and authentic leader in your words and ACTIONS! #peopledontchangeperspectiveschange
Thanks Isabell! You are right on…. nothing to fear after facing my biggest fear head on. :-)
Isabell, Your words are also inspiring. It’s completely true what you said. Thank you.
I enjoyed everyline. It reminded me that overcoming our own fears not only takes courage and braveness but mainly perseverance. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Ana! It does indeed take a lot of perseverance to overcome our fears…
Great exerience and the inspiration came to me. Congratulaions and thanks for sharing.
What a great and inspiring story about overcoming fear and the gains made through the courage of walking through fear’s door. Thanks for sharing it!
Although I have no aspirations to go skydiving, I absolutely love the lessons shared in this article. Imagine how different life (and business or career) could be if we apply these truths. So inspiring and such a good reminder about deciding you can do anything. Thank you for sharing your experience, Natalie.
Thanks Emily! You definitely don’t need to go skydiving. There are so many ways to confront our fear every day and free ourselves from their bondage.
Love it. Great story with so much to learn
Thanks so much Anna!
Natalie — I love the question at the end, what would you live be like if you faced your big fears? Such an inspirational article and great question! I also love how you asked yourself questions and remained open to feedback through the whole process. Facing fears has a quality like earning interest. It pays and pays dividends long past the initial “deposit.” You’re a role model an a scout Natalie — forging ahead on the path and reporting back, inviting us to join you. Thank you for your generosity, sharing your experiences and inspiring others on the path, reminding us of our power and that we can chose to shape our life. We are the author of our stories. Either we write the ending to our stories, or our stories write us (h/t to Brené Brown). Thank you for the inspiration, your courage is contagious.
Thanks Lisa for your kind words. I know it has been life changing for me to just face my biggest fear… after that, nothing is all that scary anymore. In fact, I wish I had done it years ago.
Wow! Gratitude for this wonderful article. I needed to read this. I’m letting the fear stop me.
Thanks Monica! We all let fear stop us until we realize that we don’t have to. Just go for it, whatever it is!
This was a very inspirational post Natalie. It taught me how to accomplish anything in life and live to the fullest.
Thanks Andre. You can definitely accomplish anything in life and live it to the fullest!
So awesome, Natalie! This is an inspiration to me.